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Minimise the impact of hay fever

Company news

A SOUTHEND GP practice is currently spending a lot of its time helping hay fever sufferers so is offering some useful advice on how to minimise the impact of this condition.

Dr Marjorie Gillespie is Primary Care Medical Director at Care UK, which runs St Luke’s Health Centre in Pantile Avenue on behalf of the local NHS. She said: “My three top tips for minimising the symptoms of hay fever are:

  • Ideally, start taking any medication before hay fever starts to set in to minimise its symptoms. This helps to prepare the immune system in advance and is beneficial because it’s harder to manage allergies after their symptoms take hold. And always be very mindful that some anti-histamine medicines can make you drowsy so you may need to avoid driving or doing anything that could affect your safety. Ideally choose the newer, non-sedating antihistamines – ask your pharmacist for advice
  • Keep an eye on the pollen count and try to avoid outdoor activities when it is high.
  • If it’s necessary to go outside when the count is high, change clothes and take a shower after returning home to remove any pollen that has attached itself to your clothes, hair or skin.

“Most weather forecasts in the summer now mention the pollen count. Usually it’s on sunnier days when winds are light. Some people find that they react to specific types of pollen, for example grass or tree pollen which flower at different times of the year. Keeping a diary of symptoms can help sufferers to predict roughly when their hay fever will start.

“There are a lot of commonly held ideas about easing the discomfort of hay fever which actually don’t work. Here are my favourites:

  • Lots of people think that if they go out when there is a lot of pollen around, they will eventually be ‘de-sensitised’ to the pollen and their hay fever symptoms will go away. This is rarely true – if anything, being exposed to high levels of pollen can make things worse.
  • People also avoid having flowers in their house as they think it will cause hay fever. Actually, flower pollen is designed to be sticky and not blow around so has far less impact than grasses and trees although some people do have allergic reactions to strongly scented flowers such as lilies which can create similar symptoms.

“Hay fever doesn’t discriminate on the grounds of age. Some young people do find their symptoms abate as they grow older, but others develop the reaction in later life. Most importantly, people who suffer the most are those with conditions such as asthma or other lung diseases. People with these conditions do need to seek medical advice for the best way to manage seasonal hay fever. For other sufferers, your first port of call should always be your friendly local pharmacist who can help with advice and over the counter remedies to help you manage through the sneezy season.”

St Luke’s Health Centre is open 8am-8pm, 365 days a year for walk-in patients. These extended hours have also made it a very popular choice with patients who have chosen it as their registered GP surgery. Further information about registering as a patient with St Luke’s Health Centre can be obtained on 01702 611505.


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