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What is Hayfever?

Pollen? Pets? Dust?

Hay fever is a reaction to tree, grass and weed pollen and can make life pretty miserable if you’re one of the 21 million people in the UK affected. Its medical name is seasonal rhinitis. Year-round allergic rhinitis has similar symptoms and is brought on by other airborne allergens like pet dander and house dust.

What are the Symptoms?

Sneezing, blocked/runny nose
Itchy eyes/throat
Watering, red eyes
Headaches, blocked sinuses
Shortness of breath
The sensation of mucus running down the back of the throat

What Causes Hayfever and Allergic Rhinitis?

Hayfever and allergic rhinitis are brought on when the body makes allergic antibodies in response to certain allergens, like pollen. For hay fever sufferers, grass pollen is the most common allergen (May to July), but tree (February to June) and weed (June to September) pollens can also cause symptoms. For some people, only certain types of pollen cause hay fever symptoms, but if you are unlucky, you may be sensitive to all types of pollen or airborne allergens. In perennial allergic rhinitis the symptoms continue all year round and usually relate to indoor allergens, such as house dust mites, pets, including birds, or moulds. Sometimes, this is known as ‘home fever’ and is often most troublesome in the winter months when we put the heating on which causes dust and other allergens to rise into the air. It’s also the time when moulds are most prevalent in the home, especially if ventilation is poor.

How can I treat my Hayfever and Allergic Rhinitis?

Hay Fever & Allergy Medicines
Antihistamines are the most commonly used medicines for hay fever and allergic rhinitis. There are different types readily available from pharmacies and general retailers without prescription.

Antihistamines work by blocking the action of the chemical histamine, which is released by the body in the hay fever allergic reaction. Antihistamines can either be taken as a preventative on days when you know there’s going to be a high pollen count, or as needed when you first notice you’re developing symptoms.

Antihistamine medicines have been around for many years and new antihistamines are being developed all the time. Some people find that antihistamines make them drowsy. If you experience this type of side effect you may find it helpful to talk to a pharmacist about the different types available – you may find that an alternative active ingredient is more suitable for you.

Antihistamines can be taken in tablet or capsule form and there are also antihistamine eye drops and nasal sprays which you may find helpful.

Eye Drops
Eye drops are readily available from pharmacies and other retailers and can be helpful to relieve red, itchy eyes.

Corticosteroid nasal sprays and drops
Available only on prescription, talk to your GP if you are finding it difficult to manage your symptoms with other remedies. These steroid treatments are most effective if you start taking them a couple of weeks before symptoms start.

Natural Approaches
If you find you can’t tolerate antihistamines, you need a little extra help or you prefer a more natural drug-free approach, there are other products and things you can try which may help.

Essential Oils
Some essential oils have natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties. Breaze Vapour Oil is a blend of 10 essential oils with therapeutic properties. It provides fast, convenient comfort while you’re on the go. At night, the Breaze Motion Activated Pillowcase provides continual release of soothing vapours while you sleep. In trials users found it helped them to breathe easy, sleep better and wake with less puffy eyes.

Barrier nasal sprays
Natural cellulose based powder sprays are available without prescription. When sprayed into the nose, these remedies form a protective gel layer, which acts as a barrier to allergens.

Rub the base of your nose with a nasal balm to help trap pollen before it enters your body. We like Haymax, as it reduces the amount of pollen entering the nose by up to 30% and is great to use alongside Breaze products.

Have a spoonful of honey
Honey is thought to desensitise your body to pollen and reduce hayfever symptoms.

Drink herbal tea
Chamomile tea is known to relieve inflammation in your airways and also has an antihistamine effect.

Shower and wash your hair at night
This will get rid of any pollen that’s found its way into your hair during the day. Try this together with Breaze Motion Activated Pillowcase to help with easy breathing and puffy morning eyes.

Tumble dry or line dry inside
Don't hang washing outside on high pollen count days. The pollen will collect on your clothes and bedding and could trigger symptoms.

Watch the pollen forecast
If possible, try to stay indoors 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.

Further information
It’s always a good idea to talk to your pharmacist or GP if you need advice on ways to tackle your hay fever or allergic rhinitis.
Allergy UK has lots of helpful information and advice.
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