The Club Doctor
Head: Medical Director and principal GP Dr Sarj Bahia offers advice during hay fever season...
Hay fever affects in 1 in 5 of the UK population. Thanks to the prolonged cold weather, pollen levels will skyrocket - June will see the highest pollen levels for more than five decades.
But this doesn’t automatically mean sufferers are resigned to having a miserable summer.
Hay fever is caused by an allergy to pollen - the fine powder that is produced by plants, trees or flowers.
Despite its name, sufferers don’t get a fever but they do experience a runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes and nasal congestion which can lead to sleeping difficulties.
Hay fever can be effectively controlled with a course of antihistamines - Piriton is the most commonly used but there are lots of other newer brands on the market that don’t cause drowsiness. Any good pharmacist should be able to advise you on what is right for you.
I recommend that you change your usual method of treatment as you can develop resistance over time. Also you should use a combination of antihistamines, eye drops and a nasal spray to treat hay fever. Although it’s usually more a nuisance rather than seriously harmful to your health, hayfever is formally classified as allergic rhinitis - ‘major chronic respiratory disease’ If over the counter treatment isn’t effective, a GP prescribed vaccine called Kenalog is available but you need to give it a lot of time to start working.
All sufferers should keep a check on the pollen count and stay indoors when the pollen count is high (over 50). If you have to go out, change your clothes and shower when you get home to keep the pollen off. It’s vital that you start taking medication now instead of waiting until your hay fever flairs up. By taking positive steps now to keep your symptoms in check, you probably won’t even notice that pesky pollen.
Before setting up Edgbaston Private Medical Practice in 2007, Dr Sarj Bahia spent several years gaining experience in hospital medicine including Cardiology, Diabetes, Gastroenterology and Dermatology. He has also worked as a physician on Harley Street and is a member of the Royal College of Physicians and The Royal College of General Practitioners.