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My hay fever was so bad I almost collapsed on air; SIAN LLOYD:.

Sian Lloyd, 55, has suffered from chronic hay fever since she was a child. Here the TV weather presenter, who is married to motor racing entrepreneur Jonathan Ashman, reveals how the condition has been a blight on both her professional and private lives...

"As soon as my eyes start to stream, my nose becomes blocked, I can't stop sneezing and I get a dry tickly cough, I know that it's the start of the dreaded hay fever season for me.

This year has been particularly bad because of the early onset of spring - I am allergic to tree pollen - and the recent toxic Saharan dust smog. Unfortunately, hay fever is something I've suffered from since I was eight years old.

And as a weather presenter conducting live outside broadcasts, I've even had asthma attacks and collapsed due to the high pollen count.

I am also allergic to grass pollen so the months of May and June are bad for me.

When I was a kid in Wales it was so bad I couldn't go to the playground in summer. I often had to stay in with windows closed and the curtains drawn. At that age I only had junior aspirin to relieve the symptoms but it never gave me much respite.

As I grew older, doctors tried me on different antihistamine tablets but they just made me feel drowsy and sluggish, so I stopped them.

Taking my exams at school, my eyes itched so badly, I could barely see the print on my papers and I was constantly reaching for a box of tissues. I am sure it affected my results and it was the same when I was studying for my degree at Cardiff University. Again, antihistamines made me feel so sluggish I decided not to take them before my exams.

Hay fever also had a terrible impact on my love life. I remember fancying this guy called Rob and a group of us had arranged to go for a barbecue on the beach.

But it was a particularly high pollen count that day so I had to stay in a darkened room lying on the sofa imagining that another girl was snogging him!

For some reason I had a number of years where I didn't get hay fever and it was only when I became a weather presenter in my late 20s and moved to London that it resurfaced with a vengeance.

Having to conduct live outside broadcasts for ITV national weather meant traipsing out to London parks and my nose and eyes would instantly start to stream. It's not a great look when you are broadcasting to the world with your eyes weeping, nose glistening and mascara running down your face.

Cameramen have often had to stop recording so my weepy eyes can dry, then edit together several pieces of film because they could not get one clean take.

My worst attack came during a live outside broadcast from the Royal Welsh Show, an annual farming and agriculture event held at the end of July.

The pollen count was high and my throat was so sore I began to get tight chest pains and my eyes were weeping and red raw. Then I started to struggle for breath and I panicked even more knowing I was due to go live on air.

I started to feel faint and my feet went from under me but luckily a cameraman grabbed me before I hit the ground. I felt so unwell I was literally gasping for air. I honestly thought I was going to die. I had to be rushed to a St John Ambulance tent where paramedics gave me a blue reliever inhaler to open my airwaves and stop me having a more serious asthma attack. In the end, we had to abandon the live broadcast.

I also had a terrible reaction when I went "glamping" at Glastonbury. I was due to stay in this amazing tent but the pollen count was so high my eyes began to stream from the moment I stepped into the field.

Wheezing and fearing I was going to have another big attack, I didn't even stop to unpack my bag and just went straight back to London.

Every year I get asked to do the Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower show and I love it. But I have to think twice because if the pollen count is high, it's miserable.

I was also affected badly at the wrap party for I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here when I took part in 2003. It was held in Jersey and was a beautiful day, but again there was a high pollen count.

Over the years, I have spent a fortune on every over-the-counter remedy from hay fever tablets to nasal sprays and herbal remedies. None of them ever worked.

The biggest help for me was when wraparound sunglasses became fashionable and I could cover up my puffy eyes.

Over the past couple of years I have been using a nasal spray called Care Allergy Defence. It's a natural remedy that helps to stop an itchy and runny nose and sneezing. It comes in a small bottle and you take a puff up each nostril three times a day.

It works by providing a natural barrier within the nose to block the pollen so you don't suffer the symptoms of hay fever.

And because it contains no steroids or antihistamines, you don't have any sideeffects like drowsiness.

Suffering from hay fever has had a significant impact on the health and quality of my life. I even chose to get married in December seven years ago because there was no way that I was going to let hay fever ruin the best day of my life.

With more than 10 million people in the UK suffering from hay fever and around four million sick days taken every year because of it, the problem is much more prevalent then you might think.

That is why we at the Met Office carry out so many pollen forecasts - there is such a massive cost to industry.

Unfortunately, it is getting worse with climate change and as pollution levels get higher more and more people will suffer.

I was affected by the recent smog. It caused such a high level of air pollution that I struggled to breath.

I used to avoid parks in London, cycling through the countryside and going on charity runs.

But now I have my spray to hand in case the pollen count is disastrously high.

I have spent so many years letting hay fever ruin my life and now I am determined to take control of it once and for all.

AS TOLD TO OLIVIA BUXTON

Sian Lloyd uses Care Allergy Defence, a clinically proven drug-free solution to help beat hay fever (PS5.99, available from Holland & Barrett and Morrisons)

Hay fever: The causes and treatments

Sian's case of hay fever is one of the worst ever seen by Dr Sarah Jarvis, a GP in London and clinical consultant to patient.co.uk.

She says: "About one in five people in the UK suffers from hay fever, although fortunately most aren't nearly as badly affected as Sian.

"The medical name is allergic rhinitis. It's caused by allergy to pollen and the most common culprit is grass pollen. Most people get their worst symptoms from May to July.

"Sian sounds like she is also allergic to tree pollen, which is common in spring. If you're allergic to weed pollens too you can suffer from March to August.

"Hay fever is linked with other allergic conditions like asthma and eczema. If you have one you may also get another. It doesn't cause serious health problems on its own but it can ruin your summer and make asthma worse. As if the runny, blocked nose and sneezing aren't bad enough, you can also get itchy, swollen eyes and irritated throat.

"Treatments include antihistamine tablets, nose sprays and eye drops. Use them in combination if one isn't doing the trick. A barrier spray to keep pollen out of your nose can help relieve eye as well as nose symptoms.

"Along with wraparound sun-glasses, other lifestyle tips include keeping windows closed when pollen counts are high, buying a pollen filter for the car plus bathing and washing your hair as soon as you get home."

CAPTION(S):

FORECAST Sian presents TV weather

SUPPORT With husband Jonathan

BATTLE Sian Lloyd is determined to control her hay fever
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 24, 2014
Words:1418
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