Advice not to be sneezed at

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Allergies are on the increase across the region with pollen from new sources.

Hundreds of thousands of people suffer from hayfever and allergies every year, but what exactly is an allergy and how come some people suffer from hay fever and others don’t?

Richard Wells, superintendent pharmacist at local checmist Weldricks has over 30 years experience dealing with allergies and hay fever. He too suffers so knows first-hand the discomfort and annoyance it can cause.

Explains Richard: “Hay fever is definitely the number one allergy in South Yorkshire, we’ve noticed we advise more people each year on how to deal with the symptoms. “An allergy is simply a defensive mechanism initiated via the immune system to protect a particular area”.

Chemical receptors in the body will react to certain things: the inhalation of foreign particles, ingestion of a certain food or the insertion of a bee sting. These trigger a reaction in the blood which is then carried around the body and manifests in an what we term as an allergic reaction.

“The way in which we react to pollen, foods, dust, pet hair and stings varies from person to person and is ultimately down to genetics. So, if both of your parents have hay fever chances are you will too. The fact is we will all react to these items but it’s an individual’s genetic profile that determines their level of allergic reaction. The best way to tackle hay fever is to first identify which pollen you’re allergic to.

Traditionally we think of wheat crops and grass pollen as the key culprits but we’re beginning to see lots of people with a reaction to tree pollen and rapeseed crops. “An allergy to rape pollen is a relatively new phenomenon”.

Rapeseed crops are not necessarily native to the UK, their steady rise over the last few years correlates to a rise in hay fever sufferers during May and June when the crops flower. Equally, tree pollen signals the start of the hay fever season as early as April, people are experiencing symptoms earlier and might think they have a cold when it’s actually hay fever.

“We can show people how to use those medicines, such as nasal sprays, most effectively,” concludes Richard: “Hay fever and allergies are all about understanding what’s happening to your body and then managing the symptoms in the best possible way. My tips for tackling allergies are to be prepared, recognise symptoms and, if possible, avoid the avoidable triggers such as pet hair or certain foods and antibiotics you know you will react to.

“If you are unlucky enough to have hay fever or an allergic reaction the good news is everyone at Weldricks is trained to advise and help so you don’t have to suffer, sneeze, cough, itch or scratch needlessly!”

For your nearest Weldricks chemist visit https://www.weldricks.co.uk/branch-finder site.

FACT FILE:

Hay fever is a type of allergy. It happens when your body makes antibodies in response to certain triggers, such as pollen.

In Britain, hay fever is mainly caused by grass pollen. Around 95% of hay fever sufferers are allergic to grass pollen.

Trees release their pollen in March to early May, while grasses release pollen from late May to early August. Weeds and certain shrubs release their pollen in late summer.

Tips to relieve hay fever:

Avoiding exposure to pollen is the best way to reduce the allergic symptoms of hay fever:

Keep windows shut at night and first thing in the morning.

Stay indoors when the pollen count is high (between 50 and 150).

Wear wraparound sunglasses.

Put some petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or another nasal blocker just inside your nostrils to trap some of the pollen.

Don’t mow the grass or sit in fields or large areas of grass.

Wash your hands and face regularly.

Avoid exposure to other allergens, such as pet fur, or environmental irritants, such as insect sprays or tobacco smoke.

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