One of my fellow English Language trainers based in Italy recently asked me if I would write about spring allergies especially hay fever. She said that it was a big problem in Italy with an ever increasing number of sufferers each year.
She said that she would be interested in reading about this subject in English. As I am not one to refuse my readers, this post is dedicated to that spring pest. So, Denise, this one is for you.
I am very lucky not to suffer from hay fever. In fact, I am extremely lucky as my father suffers really badly especially when he comes over to Europe in the spring. The humid, wet and tropical weather in Malaysia does not cause him a problem. I say lucky because hay fever is hereditary (although that doesn’t automatically mean that children inherit the allergy).
So what causes hay fever or “seasonal allergic rhinitis”?
In a word, “pollen”. Pollen is the tiny grains that are released in the air by trees, grasses and weeds. In the spring as the trees begin to bloom, the pollen gets airborne. Pollen is high on breezy days and low on rainy days as the rain washes the pollen away.
Pollen can travel for miles, spreading a path of misery for allergy sufferers along the way. The higher the pollen count, the greater the misery. The pollen count measures the amount of allergens in the air in grains per cubic metre.
When pollen grains get into the nose of someone who’s allergic, they send the immune system into overdrive.
The immune system, mistakenly seeing the pollen as foreign invaders, releases antibodies. The antibodies attack the allergens (the pollen) which leads to the release of chemicals called histamines into the blood. Histamines are what cause the symptoms of hay fever.
What are the symptoms?
As all sufferers will tell you, hay fever can give them:
- a runny nose
- watery or streaming eyes
- sneezing fits (or attacks)
- itchy eyes and nose
Sometimes the symptoms can be so extreme that it can lead a sufferer to develop pollen-induced asthma.
As hay fever can last from March until October, this is no fun for its sufferers.
How to beat hay fever?
There is no miracle cure to beat it but there are some things sufferers can do the minimise the symptoms.
Here are 10 Tips, some of which include:
- Checking pollen counts before going out (The Met Office offers pollen forecasts which can help sufferers plan their day)
- Shutting windows
- Going out on rainy days
- Strip and shower
- Taking anti-histamines before the symptoms start (also known as Over The Counter OTC remedies)
Some people prefer to take natural or herbal remedies to help ease their symptoms.
Do you live in a country where hay fever is common? Do you suffer from hay fever? How do you ease your symptoms?
Thank you, Denise for suggesting this topic. I found the research very interesting and I learnt some new things.
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Ciao for now
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