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Rachel Lekman takes a look at the scourge of hay fever and asks: “what can be done?”

So, Spring seems to have arrived and the sun has reappeared, casting the chill of winter back into the shadows where it belongs.

Finally, it looks like we can stop having garden barbeques with socially distanced friends that have to include blankets and hot water bottles!

And we can look forward to the typical English sounds of cricket ball on willow, the mowing of those manicured lawns … and the sneezing of all those hay fever sufferers!

Did you also know that your pets can also get hay fever?

Rachel Lekman Rachel Lekman Channel Marketing Manager

A long season

According to the Met Office, hay fever can affect 1 in 4 adults here in the UK and, with the diverse range of plants in the UK, the actual ‘pollen season’ can start in January and last all the way through to the end of November!

However, there are three main ‘seasons’ that might affect sufferers and knowing which one affects you most can help you plan ahead and take precautions.

Tree pollens are most pronounced in March and April, grass pollens are mainly through May, June and July, while flowering weeds are broadly in June, July and August. 

The Met Office publishes a useful live pollen count monitoring network which combines its own weather data with other information from bodies such as the National Pollen and Aerobiological Unit to offer pollen forecasts for the next 5 days across the UK.

Man’s best friend

Did you also know that your pets can also get hay fever?

Thankfully the Met Office also has some really useful advice on how to spot the symptoms in your cat or dog.

We’ve also written about the effects of poor indoor air quality on your pets here before on The Hub and, when you also consider the fact that in some people, there can be a correlation between pollen levels and anxiety, the same can surely be said about your pets.

Common symptoms

Anyone who suffers or lives with a sufferer, knows full well that hay fever can really affect the quality of life. It can affect sleep patterns, which can then increase fatigue and affect both mood and productivity.

Teenager sufferers are around 40% more likely to lose marks at school than their peers due to their symptoms.

However, many people do find that their symptoms improve as they get older and symptoms can disappear completely in around 10-20% of people.

But that still leaves a lot of people who have to deal with this annual cycle of suffering.

So, what can be done?

With the number of sufferers rising year on year, there are things that can help alleviate the effects of hay fever and again, the Met Office page has some useful advice.

The site points to the four stages of hay fever: Exposure; early-phase response; inflammation; and late-phase response.

The over-the-counter and prescriptions available fall into two main categories ‘defence’ and ‘relief’ and one may work better for you than the other.

Defence, or preventative treatments, such as antihistamine tablets, are designed to help in the early stages of hay fever and these block the action of ‘histamines’ which can cause a flare up of symptoms. There are also nasal sprays and gels, which can work within a few minutes and essentially defend the nose against allergens.

If this has not been possible then it becomes a question of managing and minimising symptoms using sprays such as corticosteroid to help control different symptoms, whether that is inflammation in the nose and itchy red eyes, swollen sinuses, a runny nose and sneezing.

More practical steps

It is never possible to simply avoid going out in the hay fever season but the website offers practical steps that can be taken to minimise exposure to pollen, including regular vacuuming of rooms and washing of both clothes and skin.

However, it also suggests closing windows at night, which simply may not be possible in the heat of the summer, so adding a better ventilation system, or installing advanced air conditioning could ensure a peaceful, stress-free, and sneeze-free night’s sleep.

This is more achieveable and affordable than you might first think. 

Individual ventilation systems costing just a few hundred pounds can be fitted to any room with an outside wall and these will help filter out allergens so that clean, fresh air is brought into the room, without wasting any energy.

And the latest advanced air conditioners also include specialised filters that will remove allergens, pollen and bacteria, letting you breathe more easily.

These modern and stylish units are whisper-quiet to help you whether it’s in your bedroom, while you sleep, your home office, while you work, or your garden gym while you work out.

Rachel Lekman is Channel Marketing Manager