In the GP surgery blog 6 - Hay fever

Wednesday, April 5, 2017 - 11:30
Dr Paul Williams

Spring is here at last and with it the annual affliction of hay fever for many of you. Hay fever is a common condition affecting around 1 in 5 of us. It is an allergic reaction causing sneezing, a blocked and runny nose, itchy throat and red, itchy or watery eyes in people who are sensitive to pollen. There are many different pollens that cause problems and different ones are present throughout the spring and summer which explains why each person’s symptoms may be worse in different months; in autumn the pollens are replaced by fungal spores from things like mushrooms and moulds too.

Those of you who have read earlier blogs will know I go on about self –care a lot. Well here is an example where self-care can make your lives better and save the NHS a fortune. What can you do to reduce the effect s of hay fever on you in your everyday life?

Taking steps to reduce your exposure to pollen and other triggers is sensible; keep windows closed (especially in cars), avoid grassy and woodland areas when the pollen count is high. Wearing wraparound sunglasses and using petroleum jelly around your nostrils to prevent pollen entering your nose may help to reduce eye and nasal symptoms. Also, avoid drying washing outside to prevent pollen sticking to your clothes if you are particularly badly affected.

Treatments and advice are available from your local pharmacy; drugs to purchase include antihistamine tablets and syrup, antihistamine and steroid nasal sprays, eye drops and decongestants (be careful not to over use these). My suggested ladder of treatments would be start with antihistamine tablets, these can be bought quite cheaply from pharmacies, I suggest you ask for the cheapest non-branded antihistamine they have in stock, it will usually be cetirizine or loratidine. If this isn’t strong enough for you then add in anti-allergy eye drops and nasal sprays. Ask the pharmacist for his cheapest steroid containing nasal spray if it is your nose that is most trouble or sodium cromoglycate containing eye drops if it is your eyes, there are many brands available of these products.

By using self-care for hay fever you will be saving GP appointments for other people with more serious problems, saving NHS money that can be spent in other areas, saving your own time and money  if you pay prescription charges all these products are cheaper than that) and helping to maintain NHS services at this time of austerity in funding. Of course if none of these measures control your symptoms then by all means visit your GP for advice and treatment.