Hay Fever warning issued by pharmacists as pollen count set to rise

  • 1 in 5 of the Irish population suffers from hay fever
  • Community pharmacists can provide advice on treatment and management of the condition

14 May 2018: This time of the year is particularly difficult for the 1 in 5 of the Irish population who suffer from hay fever. However, the condition can often be effectively managed and the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) is advising sufferers to consult with their local pharmacist about the best treatment methods for them.

Hay fever, also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, is caused by pollen and spores creating an allergic reaction affecting the nose and sinuses. While it can occur at any time of year, sufferers are particularly impacted from the early summer until autumn. This is due to the increased pollen levels in the air released by trees, plants and grass as part of their reproductive process. During the summer the pollen count is monitored by Met Eireann and from tomorrow a daily pollen forecast will be issued.

Although Hay fever is a relatively common condition, the symptoms can be extremely unpleasant and include itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing and headaches. 87% of hay fever sufferers also report difficulty sleeping. Additionally, there are potentially more serious impacts – asthma sufferers have an 80% chance of also suffering from hay fever, which brings an increased risk of asthma attacks.

Ann-Marie Horan, Executive Committee member of the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), issued the following advice to hay fever sufferers:

“Hay fever can make life miserable, especially for people with severe symptoms.  On a daily basis during the summer I see in my pharmacy the negative impact hay fever can have on people’s overall wellbeing.

It makes life very uncomfortable, sometimes for prolonged periods. That in turn can impact on sleep, productivity and overall levels of happiness. Thankfully, there is a range of treatments available which can dramatically reduce symptoms: these include antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroid nasal sprays and anti-allergy eye-drops. Occasionally, for more severe cases, prescription medications can be required, so we refer people to their GP or allergy specialist.

The key to treating hay fever is finding the treatment that works for you – there is no one size fits all cure because everyone experiences it differently. Pharmacists are highly trained health professionals and experts in medicines and can play a significant role in the management of allergies, including hay fever. Anyone suffering from hay fever should consult with their pharmacist first who will work with them to choose the best treatment options for them.”

Ms Horan said that sufferers should monitor the pollen forecast and take particular care when the count is high. She provided following tips to reduce hay fever symptoms:

  • Keep doors and windows closed at home and when driving;
  • Apply a little Vaseline inside the nose to trap pollen and stop it being inhaled;
  • Wear sunglasses, preferably wraparound glasses which prevent pollen entering the eyes;
  • Don’t mow the grass and avoid working in the garden;
  • Don’t dry clothes outside if possible; and
  • Wash your hair, hands and face when you come back indoors and change your clothes to get rid of any pollen.

Pharmacists also warn that as hay fever is a significant trigger for asthma, asthma patients should ensure they carry their inhaler at all times and use it as prescribed.

For further information:

Siobhán Kane, Press and Communications Manager, 087 775 1510

Jim Curran, Director of Communications and Strategy, 086 264 0469