As part of Allergy Awareness Week a group of pharmacies in Shropshire is urging people not to suffer in silence.
Lunts pharmacies, which has bases in Shrewsbury, Craven Arms and Pontesbury, is hoping to answer three common questions about the complaint: What is hay fever? How do I know if I’ve got it? And what do I do about it?
Allergy Awareness Week runs from April 25 to May 1 and owner Martin Lunt said it is a very unpleasant condition which a lot of county residents think they just have to put up with.
He said: “Hay fever is a common complaint and one that can be confused with a cold so it is important to recognise the symptoms and then deal with it accordingly.
“Generally speaking if you have an itchiness in the eyes, nose or throat then it’s hay fever. If you have a sore throat then that is more likely to be a cold.
“If the symptoms appear between late May and the middle of July then, again, it is probably going to be hay fever. Hay fever symptoms are similar to a cold, with a runny nose and congestion, so it can be difficult to tell.
“And just because you have not suffered with hay fever before does not mean that you won’t get it. Medication and advice is available from your local pharmacy and there are a range of treatments.”
Mr Lunt said the treatments vary as to how bad the case of hay fever is.
“Anti-histamine tablets are a good bet and if you are a regular sufferer you can make life a little easier for yourself by starting to take them before the pollen season starts,” he said.
“It has been proved that by doing this you are less likely to get more debilitating symptoms.
“It is usual to take one tablet a day but, again, ask for guidance from your pharmacist as you don’t want to be taking something that will make you sleepy. It is also a good idea for hay fever sufferers to keep off the alcohol.
“There are steroid nasal sprays but these can take time to take effect and anti-inflammatory eye drops are also a consideration. All these items are available from the pharmacy.”
Mr Lunt said there were other precautions the hay fever sufferer could take to lessen the effects.
“If you can find out what pollen you’re allergic to then it will be easier to advise on the correct type of medication,” he added.
“Pollen sticks to clothing so changing clothes and showering after being outside is advisable, and staying indoors where possible when the pollen count is at its worse – early mornings or evenings – can also reduce the problem.
“Hay fever is a very unpleasant condition but with the help of your pharmacist it can be made more bearable.”
Hay fever can be very debilitating, for example, if you are studying for or sitting exams in the summer.
Always speak to to your pharmacist before taking any “over the counter medication” particularly for the first time. We need to know what other medication you are taking as there can be interactions. Also important if you are pregnant or under 12.