Hay fever sufferers: How to keep your allergy under control

Around one in five Brits suffer from hay fever - and it's an allergy which can ruin your summer if you let it.

One in five Brits suffers from hay fever. Pic: Shutterstock.
One in five Brits suffers from hay fever. Pic: Shutterstock.

If you’re a sufferer, it can be hard to avoid the triggers for this allergic condition. However, there is plenty you can do.

Hay fever is caused by an allergy to pollen, and symptoms vary in severity and are dependent on weather conditions and pollen count.

Symptoms often include sneezing, a runny or blocked nose, itchy, red and watery eyes or a cough.

Patients who have eczema or asthma are more likely to suffer from hay fever. If these patients find their hay fever symptoms troublesome, often their chest or skin will flare up also.

If you think you have hay fever, your first port of call should be your local or online pharmacy, as many cases can be controlled using over-the-counter medication.

Antihistamines are available in both tablets and liquid form and can be used either as required or on a regular basis.

Frequent sufferers may find regular treatment more beneficial to keep the symptoms at bay. For more severe cases, prescription strength antihistamines may be available.

Eye drops and nasal sprays are also available over-the-counter and can be combined with antihistamines or taken on their own. As with antihistamines, prescription strength treatment is available from for more troublesome symptoms.

You should also take steps to reduce sufferers’ exposure to pollens, especially young children. Simple measures may work such as keeping windows closed at night, or the car window closed whilst driving.

Don’t let children play in fields or large areas of grassland; give them a bath and change their clothes after they’ve been outdoors.

Whilst common, hay fever symptoms can be distressing. Your local or online pharmacist is able to provide advice on treatment that will settle most symptoms. If these haven’t helped, speak to your GP or online doctor to discuss prescription treatments.

* For more advice on treating hay fever, visit the NHS website.

* Dr. Alexandra Phelan is an NHS GP and online doctor for Pharmacy2U.