Hay fever sufferers in Somerset can now get prescription-only over-the-counter medication from local pharmacies. Community pharmacies are stepping up support for those suffering from the seasonal illness, with some allergy medications previously only available on prescription now being offered over the counter.
The changes aim to make it easier for people with severe hay fever symptoms to get the help they need without having to make an appointment with a GP or go to an urgent care department . Dr Shaba Nabi, local GP and clinical lead for prescribing at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Every year many GP practices and even A&E departments, see of people with persistent symptoms of hay fever.
“This year, we want to enable users to access the right support at the right time as quickly and easily as possible. That’s why we’ve made changes to our primary care services, with community pharmacies now able to provide hay fever medicines that were previously only available on prescription.
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“The changes will make it easier for people to get short-term specialist assistance, while freeing up GP appointments and reducing unnecessary visits to urgent and emergency healthcare services.” In the UK, more than one in four people are affected by hay fever.
Although this is only a nuisance for most people, it can be very inconvenient for others, preventing people from enjoying the outdoors. There are steps you can take to alleviate the negative symptoms of hay fever.
Suggestions include putting petroleum jelly around the nostrils to trap pollen and showering and changing clothes after going outside to wash off pollen. People with mild hay fever symptoms can buy medications like antihistamine tablets, eye drops, or nasal sprays from a pharmacy or other stores to help relieve symptoms.
If that doesn’t work, local community pharmacists will be able to provide advice and guidance on a wider range of medicines previously only available by prescription. Hay fever is a common allergic reaction in which our body reacts to pollen in the air during spring and summer.
When pollen enters your body, your immune system sees it as an invader and begins to react to attack it. The body’s response releases a chemical called histamine, which widens blood vessels and triggers allergy symptoms like a stuffy nose or watery, itchy eyes.
Some people start having hay fever as early as February and it can affect them until September.
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What causes hay fever and what are the symptoms?
In the UK, hay fever is mainly triggered by pollen from trees, grasses and weeds, as well as mold in the environment. The timing of your symptoms should give you an idea of the type of pollen you are reacting to.
If your symptoms worsen between February and June, you are probably reacting to tree pollen. Those with a May-July reaction are likely triggered by grass pollen, which is the most common cause of hay fever.
People with hay fever symptoms from June to September react to weed pollen.
Common symptoms of hay fever include:
- To sneeze
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Watery and itchy eyes
- Itchy mouth or tongue
What can you do to treat hay fever?
You can monitor pollen counts to try to avoid hay fever trigger spikes. Sufferers should check the weather forecast, minimize their exposure to pollen by wearing sunglasses and tying their hair back when outdoors as well as changing clothes when entering.
Balms can also be applied around the nostrils and eye sockets to help catch pollen before it is inhaled. Other remedies include nutritional and herbal alternatives like nettle tea, vitamin C, quercetin, bromelain, inhaling with a dry salt pipe 10-25 minutes daily, taking vitamin D and eating locally produced honey to build resistance to pollen – although there is no scientific evidence that it works.
You can also stay indoors as much as possible, close your windows, dry your clothes indoors, turn off fans, and make sure to vacuum and dust your home regularly.