The sunshine has finally popped out to say hello, but so too have the weeds, trees and grasses with all their sneeze-inducing pollen, just wafting around in the summer breeze.
For Britain’s 16 million hay fever sufferers, this time of year can be an actual headache, not to mention the streaming nose, red, itchy eyes and blocked ears that usually strike too.
But by taking some simple steps, anyone experiencing hay fever symptoms should be able to manage the condition and make the most of the long, hot summer too.
Help manage hay fever with these tricks and tips from Allergy UK...
Check the forecast
Monitor pollen forecasts daily and stay indoors wherever possible when the count is high (generally on warmer, dry days). Rain washes pollen from the air, so counts should be lower on cooler, wet days.
Stay off the grass
Limit time spent in rural areas. Sea breezes blow pollen inland, so escape to the coast instead.
Wash it away
Use a saline nasal wash to remove pollens and allergens.
Put up the barriers
Apply an effective allergen barrier balm around the edge of each nostril to trap or block pollens and other allergens and help prevent a reaction.
Allergen barriers are available as balms or gel nasal sprays and some people have found petroleum jelly can help.
Get yourself in a spin
On high pollen days, shower and wash your hair after arriving home and change your clothing.
Keep windows closed
If you’re indoors, shut the windows. This is most important in the early mornings, when pollen is being released, and in the evening when the air cools and pollens that have been carried up into the air begin to fall to ground level again.
Purify your air
If you suffer symptoms indoors, a good air filter should help. Choose one that is proven to trap even small particles (see www.allergyuk.org website for lists of approved air filters).
Ditch the garden chores
Avoid mowing lawns or raking leaves yourself. If you must perform these tasks, use a filtration face mask.
Keep your eyes covered
Wear wraparound sunglasses when outdoors, to keep pollen allergens out of your eyes.
Reach your peak
A hat with a peak or large brim can help keep pollens from your eyes and face.
Be clever with your clothes drying
Avoid drying washing on a clothes-line outside when pollen counts are high.
Ride in comfort
Pollen counts tend to be high along roads with grass verges (dual-carriageways, motorways). Keep car windows closed and the air intake on ‘re-circulate’ when driving.
Choose a car that is fitted with an effective pollen filter, or get an in-car air filter.
Buy make-up that won’t irritate
Choose hypo-allergenic eye make-up, especially mascara.
Don’t let pets get close to your face, as they can carry pollen in their fur.
Wipe pets’ coats with a damp microfibre cloth to remove pollens when they have been out.
Use goggles when swimming, whether in the sea or in a pool.
Some symptoms of hay fever
Hay fever, also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, affects one in four people in the UK and is mainly caused by grass pollen.
Hay fever is a type of allergy. It happens when your body makes antibodies in response to certain triggers, such as pollen.
The charity Allergy UK estimates that nearly 16 million people have hay fever in the UK. It’s most common in children, particularly teenagers, but you can develop hay fever at any age. The symptoms usually include sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and a stuffy nose.
Hay fever symptoms vary in severity and may be worse some years than others, depending on the weather conditions and the pollen count. The time of year your symptoms start depends on the types of pollen you’re allergic to.
The symptoms of hay fever include:
n frequent sneezing
n runny or blocked nose
n itchy, red or watery eyes (also known as allergic conjunctivitis)
n an itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
n cough, caused by postnasal drip (mucus dripping down the throat from the back of the nose)
Less commonly, you may experience:
n the loss of your sense of smell
n facial pain (caused by blocked sinuses)
n tiredness and fatigue
While symptoms of hay fever may be mild, they can interfere with your sleep and your daily activities at school or work.