Hayfever

Hayfever is a very common condition. It is caused by an allergy to pollen or sometimes mold spores. We usually use the term hayfever to refer to those nasty seasonal allergies.

Hayfever often runs in families and is also related to asthma and eczema. It is quite common to find a family with some members with asthma, some with hayfever and some with eczema. Any individual might have more than one of these conditions. Certainly, my family has all of the above. We have folks with hayfever. We have folks with asthma. And we have folks with eczema.

The symptoms of hayfever vary from person to person. The most common involve sneezing, runny/blocked nose, red, watery, and itchy eyes and an associated itchy throat. Very often, you can also have a wheezy chest, which really suggests a degree of asthma.

For most people, over-the-counter remedies are their primary coping mechanism. There are various treatments available, most of which are based on antihistamines. Antihistamine tablets or medicine reduce the effect on the body of one of the main chemicals released by the allergic response.
There are nasal sprays that contain steroids and other substances that reduce the local inflammatory response in the nose. There are also eye drops that have similar effects on the eye. In addition, those people with asthmatic symptoms need treatment for asthma.

Occasionally, the doctor may consider it necessary to prescribe either tablets containing steroids or possibly an injection. These can have more serious side effects than the other treatments, so the possible benefits have to be weighed against the possible disadvantages. There are currently thought to be arguments in favor of the tablets, rather than the injection.

There are things you can do help lessen hayfever and the associated symptoms:

  1. In the summer stay inside between 5pm and 7pm, when pollen counts are usually the highest. Keep windows and doors closed, especially at these times and when sleeping.
  2. Use an air purifier or air filter, when possible. You should consider doing this at home, work and in the car. Removing pollen and other allergens from the air will help you reduce your symptoms.
  3. Clean your home frequently. Damp dust and vacuum your home regularly to minimise the presence of pollen and dust.
  4. Airing bedclothes in direct sunlight can also helpful. It helps to kill dust mites. Also, wash your bed linen in hot water weekly.
  5. Be aware of the pollen count. In most places, the pollen count is usually broadcast along with the weather. Be sure to avoid areas of high pollen concentration, eg long grass, lawn mowings and trees if allergic to these. If you need to work in these environments consider wearing a mask and goggles.

Avoid unnecessary extra irritants such as smoke and chemical fumes.

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