Health tips and advice: dealing with hay fever outbreaks

Hay fever is a type of allergy to pollen. The medical term for the condition is seasonal allergic rhinitis. Rhinitis refers to an inflammation of the inside of the nose. You may also experience symptoms similar to those of hay fever when you are exposed to allergy-triggering substances like animal fur and dust mites. In the UK, about one in four people are affected by hay fever annually with the majority of cases reported in the country’s hay fever “hotspots.”

Hay fever hotspots

There has been a sharp rise in hay fever cases in the UK. The number of people requesting treatment for the hay fever in the UK is significantly higher among people living in cities and towns, according to recent observations by pharmacists.

Experts at the Chemist Direct have recorded thousands of hay fever product sales across the UK’s major cities with London leading the cities with the highest demand for hay fever products, as of May, 2013. Birmingham and Manchester follow closely in that order as cities with highest demand for hay fever products.

The revelation that hay fever is prevalent in major cities across the country is somewhat new. In previous years, demand for hay fever products has been almost evenly scattered across the UK in both urban and rural areas. Hay fever hotspots in the country are ranked as follows:

1. London

2. Birmingham

3. Manchester

4. Cambridge

5. Leicester

6. Leeds

7. Reading

8. Liverpool

9. Edinburgh

10. Brighton

The increase of hay fever cases in London and other big cities has been attributed to plane or oak tree pollen that attach to people’s nasal membranes, particularly in early May. Large plane trees lining the streets and squares have been a problem, especially in London.

Omar El-Gohary, Superintendent Pharmacist for Chemist Direct, says:

“This year we’ve been seeing a lot more people living in towns and cities asking us for advice. There is some evidence to suggest that pollution, such as cigarette smoke or car exhaust fumes, can make the symptoms of hay fever worse, which could explain why more city dwellers are now suffering from hay fever.”

Treating and preventing hay fever

According to Mr El-Gohary, “A cold is usually distinguished by a runny nose accompanied by a sore throat, cough or mild headache with an initially clear discharge which becomes thick and cloudy, whereas with hay fever, sufferers may have itchy and watery eyes, a sudden on set of sneezing and a runny nose with clear discharge.”

To treat and prevent hay fever, pharmacists at Chemist Direct advice those affected to take an antihistamine once symptoms start. In addition to taking antihistamine, the experts advice sufferers to shower and change clothes at the end of the day, and to wear wraparound sunglasses to help prevent pollen getting into eyes.

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