While it may occur at any time, early summer and autumn are particularly difficult times of the year for the one in five members of the Irish population who suffer from hay fever, also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, which is caused by pollen and spores that create an allergic reaction affecting the nose and sinuses.
The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) is advising sufferers to consult with their local pharmacist about the best treatment methods for them, advising sufferers to pay attention to the summer pollen count and forecast, monitored by Met Éireann and from today.
Although hay fever is a relatively common condition, the symptoms can be extremely unpleasant and include itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing and headaches, with 87 per cent of sufferers also reporting difficulty sleeping. Additionally, there are potentially more serious impacts; asthma sufferers have an 80 per cent chance of also suffering from hay fever, which increases the risk of asthma attacks.
Ann-Marie Horan, Executive Committee member of the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), issued the following advice to hay fever sufferers: “Hay fever can make life miserable, especially for people with severe symptoms. On a daily basis during the summer I see in my pharmacy the negative impact hay fever can have on people’s overall wellbeing.
“It makes life very uncomfortable, sometimes for prolonged periods. That in turn can impact on sleep, productivity and overall levels of happiness. Thankfully, there is a range of treatments available which can dramatically reduce symptoms: these include antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroid nasal sprays and anti-allergy eye-drops. Occasionally, for more severe cases, prescription medications can be required, so we refer people to their GP or allergy specialist”.
She highlighted the fact that there is no one size fits all cure for the affliction because everyone experiences it differently but suggested that it would be beneficial for most to monitor the pollen forecast and take particular care when the count is high.
Ms Horan recommended keeping doors and windows closed at home and when driving, applying Vaseline inside the nose to trap pollen and stop it from being inhaled, wearing sunglasses, avoiding cutting the grass and general garden work, avoiding drying clothes outside if possible, and washing your hair, hands, and face and changing your clothes to get rid of any pollen when you come back indoors.