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Spring is in the air

Spring is in the air – or rather – pollen is in the air

image 124Winter is hanging on for dear life, but the first signs of spring are already visible.  Trees are being decorated with the most beautiful pink and white blossoms.  Gardens seem to burst with energy as lawns are slowly painted green again and winter flowers make way for spring flowers.

The down side to all this is that in order to have this beauty, pollen is needed.  For some people pollen is equivalent to hay fever.  Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is characterised by sneezing, runny nose and itching eyes. This seasonal allergic rhinitis is most prevalent during haying season.

The time of year at which hay fever symptoms manifest themselves varies greatly depending on the types of pollen to which an allergic reaction is produced. The pollen count, in general, is highest from mid-spring to early summer.

When an allergen such as pollen or dust is inhaled by a person, it triggers antibody production. These antibodies mostly bind to mast cells, which contain histamine. When the mast cells are stimulated by pollen and dust, histamine (and other chemicals) is released.

The two categories of allergic rhinitis include:

  • seasonal - occurs particularly during pollen seasons. Seasonal allergic rhinitis does not usually develop until after 6 years of age.
  • perennial - occurs throughout the year. This type of allergic rhinitis is commonly seen in younger children.

Prevention i.e. avoiding exposure to pollen is the best way to decrease allergic symptoms and to help your child cope with hay fever.
The following may be recommended as forms of prevention:

  • Try to keep your child indoors in the morning and evening when outdoor pollen levels are highest.
  • Avoiding fields, large areas of grassland, and trips to rural areas. Trips to the seaside may be recommended instead as the sea breeze blows pollen inland.
  • Keeping windows closed and using the air conditioner in the house and car. A pollen filter can be fitted to cars.
  • Don’t dry your child’s clothes outdoors.
  • Washing his or her hands and face regularly to remove pollen from areas where it is likely to enter the nose.
  • Washing his or her hair before going to bed removes pollen so it doesn't get stuck onto the pillow.
  • A small amount of petroleum jelly around his or her eyes and nostrils may stop some pollen from entering the areas that cause a reaction.
  • Try to get your child to wear wrap-around sunglasses, which reduce the amount of pollen entering the eyes.
  • Change your child’s bed linen often to avoid extra exposure to pollen during the night.
  • Try a natural, homeopathic remedy, such as Hay F from Natura.

If your child’s symptoms are severe, consult your doctor, who can prescribe an antihistamine.

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