Identify the allergen
Hay fever is typically caused by airborne allergens that enter the body through the air we breathe and trigger a severe response from the immune system. If it is highly seasonal, pollen grains and mould spores are the likeliest culprits. By careful observation, or by taking patch tests with the help of a doctor, it is possible to pinpoint the allergen. It will help you take precautions to prevent future attacks.
If you know the specific allergen, it is easier to reduce exposure. Otherwise, noticing whether you are getting it when certain flowers are in bloom or when grass has been freshly cut, if it is getting worse at a particular time of the day or during a specific activity, can help you avoid those situations.
Stay indoors when pollen counts are high
There is daily as well as seasonal fluctuation in pollen and mould counts in the air. Most weather shows broadcast the counts. Make it a point to listen to these reports, and avoid outings on particularly bad days. As a rule, pollen counts are high during the mornings and subside by afternoon. Plan your day accordingly. If you need to go outside when there is a high pollen count, ensure you take medication to help your allergies and wear sunglasses to prevent pollen getting in your eyes. Remember, a pollen count of over 50 may worsen hay fever symptoms.
Change and shower when you come inside
Avoid bringing outside allergens into the house as much as possible. Our clothes and hair are good carriers of these particles. Change outdoor clothes immediately on reaching the home, and take shower to wash off any pollen grains sticking to the body.
Change bed covers frequently
Since we spend a lot of time sleeping, pillow covers and bed covers should be kept as free of allergens as possible. Doctors advise those with severe allergies to cover the bedding with a hypoallergenic, non-permeable barrier and change the bedcovers every day.
Avoid other irritants
Common airway irritants like dust and smoke, especially tobacco smoke, may put your body in high alert towards allergens and make a hay fever attack more likely. Avoid exposure to these where possible.
Get efficient air purifiers
Install a high-efficiency particulate arresting filter (HEPA) into your air-purifier for better protection. The filter device itself can become a breeding ground for mould spores that can undermine the very purpose. Keep it in prime condition with regular servicing.
Delegate cleaning jobs to others
Indoor and outdoor cleaning jobs that typically throw allergens into the air should not be attempted by a person prone to hay fever. Cleaning the carpets, dusting the furniture, raking leaves, turning compost etc. should be delegated to other members of family or to outside help.
Dry clothes inside with the windows closed
As previously stated, pollen sticks to clothes so do not hang your laundry up to dry outside. Instead, keep it indoors at all times and ensure the windows are closed to prevent pollen coming into the house.
Keep allergy medication handy
Anyone with a history of hay fever should carry either over-the-counter anti-allergy medications or those prescribed by the doctor at all times. Regular once daily antihistamines, such as cetirizine or loratidine, should be taken daily throughout the pollen season to prevent hay fever symptoms – they are less effective if used as-and-when.
Depending on your symptoms, antihistamine tablets can be supplemented safely with a nasal spray and/or eye drops to keep your condition under control and allow you to enjoy the warmer weather.
Sunglasses help to prevent pollen getting in the eyes and causing symptoms such as itching, swelling, red and runny eyes.