Home Health & Wellness Optometrist Warns What You Need to Know Before Purchasing Hay Fever Medication and How to Combat

Optometrist Warns What You Need to Know Before Purchasing Hay Fever Medication and How to Combat

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With hay fever affecting a quarter of the population, it is the time of year when many of us seek immediate relief, from home remedies to over-the-counter purchases.

Data from the Met Office highlights the widespread prevalence of this seasonal allergy, particularly with tree pollen appearing first from April to mid-May, followed by grass pollen allergy, which lasts from mid-May to July.

Malcolm Maciver, optometrist at Leightons Opticians, said: “The symptoms of allergy are caused by the body releasing histamine. The histamine triggers reactions that can make the eyes, nose and throat swell, itch, and irritate.”

Malcolm shared these tips:

Wear tight-fitting sunglasses for eye protection

Wearing tight-fitting sunglasses is essential to protect your eyes from pollen settling around the sensitive eye area. Sunglasses act as a barrier, reducing irritation and allergic reactions by minimising pollen penetration. This simple practice can greatly reduce discomfort and improve eye health during allergy season.

Always shower after outdoor activities to remove pollen

Check the pollen count before you go out and adjust your activities to avoid high pollen counts which can trigger symptoms. It’s also a good idea to close any windows around your home during these high pollen periods and avoid drying clothes outside to prevent pollen getting into or onto your clothes. After outdoor activities, take a shower to completely remove pollen from your face and body.

Cold compression can disrupt the histamine cycle

For effective relief from allergy-related eye irritation, simple but effective methods can also make a big difference. Try using cold compresses on the eye area, which can disrupt the histamine cycle and provide immediate relief. 

In addition, consider using refrigerated ocular lubricants, which can help flush histamine from the eyes, further reducing discomfort. Preservative-free lubricants are recommended for prolonged use to ensure eye health is maintained without potential irritants.

Research OTC limitations before usage

For allergy symptoms, exploring over-the-counter (OTC) options can provide relief, although it’s important to be aware of their limitations.

Consider short-term fixes or longer-term relief

Start by exploring OTC antihistamines in tablet form, recognising that their potential effectiveness may vary, particularly for eye symptoms. In addition, consider the short-term use of OTC antihistamine eye drops; their effectiveness may also be limited. For more effective and longer-lasting relief, choose OTC mast cell stabilisers, recognising that it may take 7–10 days for their full effects to be felt.

By making informed choices about OTC medications, you can better manage your allergy symptoms and improve your overall comfort from hayfever.

When you should seek medical advice if symptoms worsen?

If these methods aren’t enough to manage allergy symptoms, it’s important to seek advice from a healthcare professional. For mild symptoms, a consultation with a pharmacist or optometrist can provide valuable advice and possible treatment options. But if you’re experiencing moderate to severe symptoms, it’s advisable to see an optometrist or doctor who can provide specialist care and prescribe appropriate medication.

Malcolm has been an optometrist since 2015. He is registered as an independent prescriber. He specialises in binocular vision abnormalities and the management of ocular surface disease. 

Since 1928, Leightons has continued to focus on providing value through personal service, using highly professional, qualified staff and by offering the latest technologies.

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