Rising temperatures hit hay fever sufferers

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A leading GP is urging hay fever sufferers to take action to minimise symptoms of the airborne allergy as rising temperatures increase pollen counts and cause misery for thousands.

One in four people in the UK are affected by hayfever – which causes itchy, red and watery eyes, blocked and runny nose, itchy throat and palate, wheeze and even difficulty in sleeping.

Now Dr Sheila Newport, GP and chair for NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, who will take charge of local NHS budgets in Ashbourne and Southern Derbyshire from April 2013, is issuing top tips to help sufferers combat the symptoms of the allergy.

These include keeping windows shut between 5pm and 10am when pollen levels are at their most aggressive, wearing wraparound sunglasses to protect the eyes, cutting the grass when pollen levels have descended or the weather is damp, and fitting pollen filters in cars instead of standard air filters. These filter out pollens that cause the allergic reaction before they flow inside the car and are available to buy from motoring parts retailers.

Dr Newport also recommends using over-the-counter treatments including daily nasal steroid spray and once-daily antihistamines when symptoms do start affecting the nose, eyes and throat. Eyedrops can also help, too.

Dr Sheila Newport, chair for NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The hot weather may seem like a welcome respite for many, but unfortunately this is when plants start to release pollen into the air which can wreak havoc on the lives of thousands – forcing them to stay indoors, or causing inflammation around the eyes.

“Avoiding pollen is the best way to avoid hay fever misery, and keeping windows shut between 5pm and 10am is one of the most effective ways to keep symptoms at bay. If all of the above steps don’t work in combination, talk to your GP about possible, alternative treatments.”

Hay fever, or seasonal allergic rhinitis, is caused by an overreaction to pollen. It affects one in four people in the UK, with rates in this country among the highest in the world. Rates of the allergy have more than doubled in adults in the past two decades. Further information about hay fever can be found at http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hay-fever/Pages/Introduction.aspx.