Have you noticed that covering of yellow on every surface outside? It is the yellow pollen from pine and it's playing havoc with people suffering with hay fever. Hay fever affects one in every 5 of us causing a recurrent runny, stuffy, itchy nose, frequent sneezing and sometimes itchy, red eyes.
Half of sufferers just have symptoms during the spring. This seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is usually triggered by pollen. If you are suffering symptoms in the early spring, this indicates a tree pollen allergy. If you have symptoms in late spring and summer this might indicate that you are more allergic to grass and weed pollens. However, good old Auckland weather means that the pollen release is overlapping and the season itself is ill-defined.
It’s easy to get confused between a cold and hay fever as the symptoms are very similar. The main difference is that with hay fever the mucus from your nose is more watery, and you will sneeze more.
There are two main ways to treat hay fever:
* Reducing contact with the allergen (if possible!)
* Medicines such as antihistamine tablets, nasal sprays, decongestants and eye drops.
Avoiding pollen is difficult but you might be able to avoid going outside when pollen counts are high; for instance, in the morning or on windy days. As tempting as it is to get your clothes and bedding aired, using a drier will prevent the materials from picking up pollen.
Non-sedating antihistamines are often useful in helping with symptoms of hay fever. They relieve your runny nose as well as itching and sneezing symptoms. Antihistamines come as tablets, liquids, nose sprays and eye drops.
Decongestant tablets can be used to unblock your nose, but they should not be used for more than a few days at a time. Using them for longer can make your blocked nose even worse (rebound congestion)
For people with moderate to severe hay fever, an anti-inflammatory corticosteriod nasal spray is a wise choice and is actually considered the gold star treatment if you continually suffer from the symptoms of a blocked nose. They take a few days to work and actually a couple of weeks to get the full effect. They need to be used regularly (every day) throughout your hay fever season to be most effective.
So spring is coming, it’s time to get out there and smell the roses. But if you are a hay fever sufferer.... perhaps just sit back and enjoy the sunshine instead!