Hay Fever

allergyHay fever is a cover-all term for a condition, allergic rhinitis, which occurs when pollen or other allergens, such as mould spores, pet dander or dust, irritate and inflame the nasal passages, causing sneezing, a runny nose and watery eyes. At the South West Sleep Clinic we test for the offending airborne particles that cause individual cases of allergic rhinitis. Rhinitis may be seasonal with various pollens or all year round with other allergens.

Recent studies have shown a connection between hay fever and insomnia, with hay fever victims suffering from insomnia twice as much as people without allergies. Hay fever sufferers tend to take longer getting to sleep and wake up more easily during the night. They also take more naps during the day and get tired easily.

Modern antihistamines, either bought over the counter or prescribed by a doctor are very effective: they don’t cause a foggy head and dry mouth and sinuses, and don’t interfere with sleep like older antihistamines. However, once you know which allergens to avoid there are ways of controlling your condition without medication.

Keep Away from the Allergen

To help control hay fever, the prime time for pollen distribution is between 5-10am, so if possible stay indoors with the windows closed, and schedule your outdoor activities for when it’s windless, cloudy or raining – there’s less pollen in the air:

  • If grass is your enemy, pave over the lawn or hire a gardener.
  • Close your windows in the early morning, or better still, the night before.
  • Check the pollen count and plan outdoor activities when the count is low.
  • Exercise after the 5-10am pollen discharge – you’ll breathe better and get a better workout.
  • Shower after you have been exposed; this washes away many of the irritating pollen grains.
  • Try holidaying in another part of the world while home allergens are at their highest count.

Keep Allergens Away from you

If you have symptoms in the home, examine your bathroom, kitchen and cellar – the most humid areas in the home – plus areas you know to be damp. Be ruthless and get rid of allergy-triggering mouldy wallpaper or carpeting and use a cleaning solution containing 5% bleach and a small amount of detergent to eradicate mould.

 Change the Home Environment

Leather or vinyl upholstery doesn’t collect dust mites the way fabric covered furniture does, and bare floors don’t harbour dust mites and mould spores like fitted carpets do. Go for hardwoods, wood laminates, tile or vinyl, with washable rugs for comfort, and make sure you steam clean them or wash them often.

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