The sun’s out, but so are the weeds, trees and grasses with all their sneeze-inducing pollen just wafting around in the summer breeze.
For Britain’s hay fever sufferers, this time of year can be an actual headache, not to mention a streaming nose, red, itchy eyes and blocked ears.
But by taking some simple steps, anyone stricken with hay fever should be able to manage the condition and make the most of the long, hot summer too…Here’s some ideas on what to do to hay fever-proof yourself and your home:
1. Monitor pollen forecasts daily and stay indoors wherever possible when the count is high (generally on warmer, dry days). Rain washes pollen from the air, so counts should be lower on cooler, wet days.
2. Limit time spent in rural areas. Sea breezes blow pollen inland, so escape to the coast instead.
3. Use a saline nasal wash to remove pollens and allergens.
4. Apply an effective allergen barrier balm around the edge of each nostril to trap or block pollens and other allergens and help prevent a reaction. Allergen barriers are available as balms or gel nasal sprays and some people have found petroleum jelly can help.
4. On high pollen days, shower and wash your hair after arriving home and change your clothing.
5. Keep windows closed when indoors. This is most important in the early mornings, when pollen is being released, and in the evening when the air cools and pollens that have been carried up into the air begin to fall to ground level again.
6. If you suffer symptoms indoors, a good air filter should help. Choose one that is proven to trap even small particles - Allergy UK has a list of approved air filters.
7. Avoid mowing lawns or raking leaves yourself. If you must perform these tasks, use a filtration face mask available from Allergy UK.
8. Wear wraparound sunglasses when outdoors to keep pollen allergens out of your eyes.
9. A hat with a peak or large brim can help keep pollens from your eyes and face.
10. Avoid drying washing on a clothes-line outside when pollen counts are high.
11. Pollen counts tend to be high along roads with grass verges (dual-carriageways, motorways). Keep car windows closed and the air intake on 're-circulate' when driving. Choose a car that is fitted with an effective pollen filter, or get an in-car air filter.
12. Choose hypo-allergenic eye make-up, especially mascara.
13. Don't let pets get close to your face as they can carry pollen in their fur. Wipe pets’ coats with a damp microfibre cloth to remove pollens when they have been out.
14. Use goggles when swimming, whether in the sea or in a pool.
15. Avoid alcohol. According to research from Optrex, beer, wine and spirits contain histamine - the chemical that sets off allergy symptoms in the body. Switch to a spritz instead. Try using Optrex ActiMist 2in1 Eye Spray for Itchy & Watery Eyes if you can't avoid a tipple or two.
Allergy nurse Amena Warner says: "If you have watery/ itchy eyes, runny nose with clear fluid coming down and sneezing, it's important to treat these symptoms. It could be due to pollens.
"Ask your local pharmacist for advice about using long acting non-sedating antihistamine and other treatment such as saline nasal douching or nasal allergy barrier balms.
"If your symptoms are very severe or you also have a wheezy chest or cough as well as hay fever symptoms during the summer, ask your GP to consider a referral to an allergist/ immunologist."