Most of us welcome the arrival of spring, but the warmer weather often heralds the start of symptoms such as sneezing, headaches and itchy, red or watery eyes for hay fever sufferers. That is why Specsavers Wellington is providing advice on how to handle hay fever this Allergy Awareness Week (29 April-5 May).

What is hay fever?

Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen and is usually worse in the summer months. As well as sneezing and a blocked or runny nose, hay fever can also cause red, itchy or watery eyes, which can be particularly problematic for contact lens wearers.

Preventing eye irritation 

‘Hay fever sufferers who wear contact lenses may notice the vision through their lenses can appear smeary and eyes can generally feel uncomfortable,’ said optometry director, Satinder Sidhu. ‘However, there are some things contact lens wearers can try to help reduce the irritation.’
•    Using contact lens-friendly eye drops to calm itchiness
•    Wearing prescription glasses to prevent pollen from entering your eyes
•    Showering and changing your clothes when you get home will remove pollen from skin and hair

Preventing ear irritation
 
‘Allergic reactions can cause the outer ear to itch or swell,’ says David Hutchison, audiology director at Specsavers Wellington. ‘The middle ear contains the Eustachian tube, which acts as a drainage pipe, but when mucus clogs the middle ear it affects that drainage. This leads to a build-up in pressure, which can cause discomfort, popping in the ears or earache.’

To avoid irritation, David suggests:
•    Putting Vaseline around the nose to trap pollen
•    Vacuum and dust regularly 
•    Use antihistamine decongestants to relieve symptoms

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