THE BEST HAYFEVER ADVICE EVER; HEALTH; Follow our 15-step programme.
Streaming eyes, a blocked nose and plenty of sneezes are the summer curse that leave an estimated 18 million Brits feeling ropey. 'Hayfever might be common, but it's not trivial,' says leading pollen expert Dr Jean Emberlin. 'It can have a huge impact on lives: children don't perform as well at school, people struggle to concentrate at work, and, on rare occasions, drivers can even have accidents.' We asked Dr Jean for her tips for coping this summer.
29 million sick days are taken each year because of hayfever.
1 STAY DUST FREE Pollen settles in dust, and the allergens can remain active for 6-9 months. Dust surfaces using a damp cloth to avoid recirculating the pollen.
2 SLEEP EASY If you open your bedroom windows, cover your bed with a sheet so pollen doesn't settle on your bedding. Change your sheets regularly, and never dry them outside as they'll collect pollen.
3 DON'T SWIM Chlorine in swimming pools can irritate the respiratory tract and worsen symptoms, so avoid swimming on high pollen days.
4 GET RID OF POLLEN AT THE DOOR Brush pollen off coats before you set foot in the house, and change your clothes as soon as you can. In heavy pollen seasons, wash your hair as frequently as possible.
5 CREATE A HAYFEVERFREE OASIS Pollen is a heavy particle and sinks to the floor within 20 minutes. Find a quiet room, and shut all the doors and windows - you'll soon be breathing clean air.
6 STAY HYDRATED When your body is dehydrated it goes into drought mode. It releases histamines - a neurotransmitter that tells your brain it's under attack and causes allergy symptoms - to ration water supplies. If you're well-hydrated and pollen is in the air, your eyes will flush away the allergen by watering - but if you're dehydrated, your body will flood the area with histamines instead. The outcome? Red, itchy, sore eyes.
7 BREATHE EASY For a blocked nose, take an antihistamine spray, or ask your GP for a cortisol steroid spray to pre-empt the sniffles.
Alcohol causes symptoms., 8 easy on high days.
8 CHECK THE FORECAST Modify your activities according to the pollen count. The highest counts are often in the morning and evening, so avoid outdoor activities during that time. Make sure you know when the season ends too, so you're not taking unnecessary medication.
9 SEE YOUR GP For very severe hayfever, your doctor might refer you to an allergy specialist for immunotherapy. It works by giving you tiny amounts of pollen every day to gradually build up your tolerance.
10SEE CLEARLY Eye drops are a simple and safe way to soothe sore eyes, and stop watering and itching. Try keeping a stash of Optricrom Allergy Eye Drops, PS5.99 for 20 single doses, in your handbag to avoid getting red eyes.
11SEAL YOUR CAR Change the pollen filter in the air inlet regularly - a new filter can cost as little as PS6, but can make the world of difference. Never drive with the windows down on a motorway, because there is often flowering grass on the verges.
12 POWDER YOUR NOSE If you don't like the idea of taking tablets, nasal sprays containing cellulose powder area natural and effective way to prevent symptoms. Try booze pollen. Boots Allergy Barrier Nasal Spray, PS7.99 for 800mg, which works by dusting your nasal passage with a light layer of powder, meaning pollen can't settle.
13AVOID DAIRY Milk products, such as cheese and yoghurt, increase mucus production, so avoid eating dairy when you have symptoms.
14 SAY NO TO APPLES If you suffer from a birch pollen allergy, avoid apples and celery, because the proteins found in them are very similar to those found in pollen. They can cause stinging in the mouth and oral allergies, and worsen allergy symptoms.
15UP YOUR VITAMIN B5 INTAKE Eating a generally healthy diet is key for boosting your body's immune response to allergens, but make sure you also pack in plenty of symptom-reducing vitamin B5 (found in salmon, avocados and sunflower seeds).
Alcohol causes allergy symptoms, so go easy on the booze on high pollen days.
DR JEAN EMBERLIN IS WORKING WITH OPTRICROM, THE ALLERGY EYE DROP SPECIALIST (ALTHOUGH SHE DOES NOT ENDORSE ANY BRANDS IN PARTICULAR). VISIT OPTICROM.CO.UK.