Chain Reaction

Do you suffer the summer with eyes streaming and non-stop sneezing? Sasha Kanal explains how to survive pollen misery.

Summer is in full flow and the glorious weather means more time spent outdoors with the aim of making the most of those rays. But what about the thousands of hay fever sufferers who are badly afflicted in our lovely corner of the world come the warm seasons? They have a hard time of it, with work, exams, social events and general daily life often blighted by their symptoms. Hay fever or allergic rhinitis is an immune response to pollen grains and other substances, which in simple terms causes your body’s immune system to go into overdrive when exposed. The immune system literally overreacts, viewing the harmless pollen as dangerous and flooding the body with chemicals such as histamines, which inflame the sinuses, throat and nasal passages and in turn cause sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose.

These symptoms, meant to ‘protect’ the body from the invading particles, work by trapping and expelling the pollen, or causing swelling in certain areas, so that the allergen cannot enter. All in all, it’s a miserable  existence for sufferers, unless they take medication such as antihistamines, which can diminish symptoms or take measures to avoid pollen as much as possible. Not an easy task, but here are a few handy hacks to protect yourself from pollen this summer. Hay fever – be gone!


1. Limit your pollen exposure

This one’s a no brainer. So, it’s avoiding hot spots with large clusters of vegetation or parks with freshly mown grass. If you exercise outdoors, then consider going swimming instead. Not only are you away from the pollen, but also the water and post-swim shower can wash away any pollen particles that have stuck to you previously.

2. Plan in advance

Check the pollen count before you head out anywhere. Go online and check it via the Met Office website or the many free apps that are available. This way you are always in the know and can take precautions in advance.

3. Allergy-proof yourself and your home

Those pesky pollen particles are clever in that evolution has bestowed them with adhesive qualities so they stick to everything far and wide, giving them a better chance at pollination. For hay fever sufferers, this means their clothing, skin and hair can be contaminated with the very allergens that are causing their misery. Reduce this kind of exposure by

– changing your clothes as soon as you get home.
– Brush down and wash pets if they have been outdoors.
– Regularly vacuum and dust your home, including mattresses, curtains and other soft furnishings.
– Before you go to bed, wash your face, hair and eyebrows.
– Wear sunglasses when out to minimize pollen in your peepers.
– Spread some Vaseline on the inside of the bottom of your nose before you go outside, as this may act as a trap for some of the pollen particles.

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