Suffering with seasonal allergies‘Your immune system is designed to fight and defend against harmful substances… but when your immune system decides to fight something that isn’t harmful, it’s called an allergy’.

As heard on Today with Sean O'Rourke

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T’is the season to be swollen. If your summers are blighted by the curse of itchy eyes, heavy heads and runny noses, you’re likely one of the many people who are suffering from seasonal allergies, most commonly to trees, grass and pollen. Dr Máire Finn joined Sean O’Rourke to give him the lowdown on hay fever and all its unwanted associates.

“Some people really suffer in this fine weather… Your immune system is designed to fight and defend against harmful substances, usually viruses, bacteria, but when your immune system decides to fight something that isn’t harmful, it’s called an allergy.”

An allergy causes an accumulation of certain white blood cells in the body, Dr Máire explained. You produce mass cells and then histamine and it’s the accumulation of histamine that makes us swollen and snotty. Most people develop their allergies in childhood but often they can hit at any stage of our lives. Dust mites, bees and certain foods can be culprits but for the most common ones that cause hay fever, Máire has a few pointers.

“The main thing is really kind of make sure you avoid the allergen as much as you can. Wear wraparound sunglasses because eye symptoms are often the worst. Have a shower in the evening, have a bath. If it’s a child, throw the child in the bath, it really makes a difference. Using a bit of Vaseline on the nose can help slightly because the nose gets very dry too. Watch out for the pollen counts. Go to the seaside rather than go to the forest, simple things like that. Take an antihistamine if you feel you need it… Steroid nasal sprays are really effective and people often need to use a combination of different treatments to actually manage it.”

Click here to listen to Today with Sean O’Rourke.

© The Listener 2018

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