The season for itchy eyes and tickly throats has arrived. The cause? Hay fever and other, similar allergic conditions.
Otherwise known as allergic rhinitis, hay fever affects the sinuses and is typically triggered by pollen. However, you do not need to be outside to be affected. You can also find yourself struggling with symptoms simply by having the windows open.
In most cases, these symptoms are harmless. But for some sufferers, the constant sneezing and dry throat can cause significant discomfort. So, to alleviate some of the soreness this summer, we have provided a guide on handling hay fever and other indoor allergies you may be suffering from.
What are hay fever symptoms?
Hay fever is a condition that is usually inherited. It is largely triggered by tree pollen in the spring, grass pollen in the summer and mugwort (along with other hybrids) in the autumn. Once they enter your respiratory system, these microscopic substances cause your body to release histamine as part of your immune system.
The histamine that is released then irritates your upper respiratory passages, causing the following reactions:
- Repeated sneezing
- Blocked or runny nose
- Watery and/or itchy eyes
- Tickly cough
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a common occurrence to confuse these symptoms with that of coronavirus or a common cold. Let us reassure you that the only definite shared symptom is a dry cough.
To help avoid any anxiety if you are typically a sufferer of hay fever, we advise that you prepare for allergy symptoms ahead of time. Only consult your doctor if you are certain that your symptoms are not an allergic reaction.
How can I reduce my symptoms?
The most effective means of reducing your symptoms is avoiding what it is you are allergic to. Of course, that is not always possible. Instead, you may need to rely on medication.
Antihistamines – such as chlorpheniramine – are an example of allergy medications. As you might imagine, antihistamines prevent the immune system’s response to airborne substances by stopping histamines from binding to your receptors, expanding blood vessels and therefore easing the symptoms.
There are two types of antihistamine medications:
- Drowsy – These include hydroxyzine (Atarax) and promethazine (Phenergan), both of which can leave you feeling tired and sapped of energy.
- Non-drowsy – These include cetirizine (Zyrtec) and fexofenadine (Allegra), which offer the same alleviation as the above drugs but will take less of an energy toll.
While we would suggest non-drowsy antihistamines are better for you as they are less likely to make you sleepy, certain medications work better than others depending on your circumstances. Also, you may find that drowsy antihistamines improve your sleep when hay fever symptoms make it difficult.
Nasal sprays like Beconase can also help reduce your symptoms by unblocking your nose or preventing it from running. The same can be said for eye drops if you are experiencing itchy or watery eyes.
Outside of medication, we would recommend keeping your windows closed – especially at night as pollen levels are typically at their highest in the early morning and late evening. Likewise, wraparound sunglasses can help keep allergens out of your eyes. If that does not work, the cause of your irritation may be something closer to home…
What are indoor allergies?
Indoor allergies are often confused for hay fever as the symptoms are almost identical. However, indoor allergies are responses to irritants in the home.
Whether it is dust, mold, pet hair or household chemicals, as soon as you come into contact with it, your body produces histamines that begin to fight back and interfere with your blood vessels.
Unlike hay fever, the longer you are exposed to the allergen, the more likely the irritation is to increase in severity. Should you remain in close proximity to the irritant, you may gradually feel tired and generally unwell, with symptoms persisting for weeks.
When it comes to pets, it can be difficult to choose between easy breathing and your furry friend. However, there are a number of ways you can reduce your reaction to their hair. These include:
- Regularly washing bedding and soft furnishings that pets lie on
- Grooming pets outside
- Washing pets at least once a week
- Using air filters throughout your home
- Increasing ventilation with fans and air conditioning
What is the difference between a food allergy and a regular allergy?
Quite unlike regular allergies, food allergies are largely uncommon and the symptoms are almost instant. During this type of reaction, your body will mistakenly instruct an antibody to fight off a certain food item or ingredient, triggering an immune system response.
Again, this involves histamine production. Yet unlike regular indoor allergies or hay fever, the symptoms can be much more significant. For example, you might experience:
- Nose irritation
- Frequent cough
Food allergies can be extremely serious, and if you are concerned that you may be afflicted with one, always consult a doctor. They may suggest that you create a food diary to isolate the offending ingredient and then gradually remove it from your diet.
Where we can help
We appreciate that, right now, staying inside is already hard enough without allergies. That is why we are on hand to supply medicine to reduce your symptoms and ease any irritation.
At Medix, our pharmacists stock a wide variety of allergy medication. They can also advise on which medicine may be best for your individual circumstances.
So do not suffer alone. Get in touch today and find out more about managing your allergies this summer.