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Suffering from a ‘Spring’ Cold? Don’t underestimate ‘hay fever’

Are you suffering from the following systems?

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Blocked nose
  • Red, streaming eyes

If you are, then it is likely that you have seasonal allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever. Hay fever/ rhinitis is inflammation of the nasal passages and it has many causes, the most common is an allergy to a substance like pollen, house dust mite or pet dander. This means that you are allergic to pollen and, at this time of the year, it is most likely that tree pollen is the underlying cause.

What causes hay fever?

In the case of hay fever, the problem allergen is pollen from trees, grasses or weeds. If your hay fever symptoms occur in March (maybe clearing up within a few weeks) then it is most likely that you are allergic to pollen from a tree.

The following tree species (in the order in which their pollen appears) are known to cause hay fever in March:

  • Hazel
  • Alder
  • Poplar
  • Ash
  • Birch
  • Oak

The exact time of year when a particular tree pollen is around depends upon winter weather, location of the tree, hours of sunshine in the day and temperature. Pollen from trees, grasses and weeds is carried around by the wind. That is why it is present in the air.

What can I do about Hay Fever?

The symptoms of hay fever in March can interfere with work, study and social life and be incredibly debilitating.  If they are severe, it is worth asking your doctor to refer you for skin prick or blood tests to pinpoint your allergen, so you can work towards avoiding it.

It is certainly possible to reduce your exposure to tree pollen. MOLLY MAID, the domestic cleaning experts, suggest adopting the following tips.

Indoors:

  • Pollen grains tend to settle and not remain airborne for too long so focus on not letting pollen indoors.
  • Keep windows shut at night and first thing in the morning when pollen counts are at their highest.
  • Use an allergy air purifier to effectively capture pollen from the air.
  • Don’t dry clothes outside during the pollen season, as they will collect up pollen grains and bring them inside.
  • Similarly, change your clothes and wash your hair when you come in from work.
  • Brush pets thoroughly when they come indoors (or keep them outside) to remove the pollen that clings to their fur. Wash them with Allergy Pet Shampoo PET+.
  • Keep windows and doors shut during peak pollen times.

Outdoors:

  • Always check the pollen forecast and plan your activities accordingly.
  • Stay indoors when the pollen count is high (between 50 and150).
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses.
  • Put some petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or another nasal blocker just inside your nostrils to trap some of the pollen.
  • Consider installing air conditioning in your car to avoid the need to open windows.
  • Use a face mask when you cycle and wrap a scarf over your nose when you walk at peak pollen times.
  • Avoid sitting near fresh mown grass or leaves.

It will not be possible to avoid all pollen entirely so it might also be necessary to have some medication on hand. The new generation non-sedating antihistamines are very useful against the symptoms of hay fever, because they block the action of histamine. You may find short-term use of a decongestant helpful as well. Most hayfever medications are available over the counter these days. Always read the label and, if you have questions, do ask the pharmacist about the medication.