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It's been a stressful year for all of us, as a result of Covid-19. Hay fever might seem like a trivial issue compared to a global pandemic, but those of you who suffer from it are in for a bit of bad news.
If you've felt like the sneezing, itching and tickling have been especially unbearable this year, you're not wrong.
One expert explains why hay fever feels worse this year.
Dr Naveen Puri, Associate Clinical Director at Bupa Health Clinics, told Cosmopolitan: "Over the last year, social distancing restrictions have meant that we've spent more time indoors than perhaps we usually would.
"As a result, you may have been exposed to less pollen than usual, and this could make your hay fever feel worse."
Dr Puri added that: "We build up a certain level of immunity to pollen when we spend time outside, so without that exposure you may be less immune than you usually would be to pollen."
There are a number of reasons lockdown is to blame for worse hay fever this year. Some of them are as trivial as some new residents in your house which could be causing you allergies - namely, pets and plants.
If, like me, you invested in a collection of houseplants to keep yourself occupied in lockdown, you could potentially have introduced new allergens into your home and made your hay fever worse, says Dr Puri.
Likewise, if you decided to get a furry friend to keep you company in lockdown (no we're not talking about the lack of shaved legs), they could be making you sneeze too.
But don't worry, it doesn't mean you're allergic to your cat or dog all of a sudden if you weren't before. Dr Puri explained to Cosmo that 'pet hair acts as a carrier of airborne allergens (such as pollen)'.
So you don't need to give up your new fur baby (I'd sneeze my guts out before I let that happen), you just need to avoid letting them sleep on your bed or sofa to keep those zones pollen-free.
Hay fever isn't harmful, but it can be an absolute nightmare to live with. Here are a few general tips to help you survive the summer.
If you watch the news and weather in the morning, chances are you're aware of this already. For those who don't know, most daily weather report providers give you a pollen count, which is usually rated as 'low,' 'medium,' or 'high.' Alternatively, you can head to websites such as the Met Office's Pollen Forecast to get that information.
Knowing what the pollen levels are going to be like can help you to plan ahead and take measures to reduce your symptoms.
It's difficult when it's so hot outside, but keeping windows and doors shut is going to help stop pollen being blown into your house. It might be worth you investing in a fan to keep you cool while also minimising your exposure to pollen at home.
The same applies with laundry. Hay fever sufferers should throw clothes in the wash regularly to get rid of any pollen they've picked up from outdoors.
It's also a good idea to change your clothes when you've come home from being outside to avoid transferring the pollen to your furniture and your bed.
To avoid pollen sticking to your laundry and causing you to start streaming, it's best to avoid hanging it on the washing line and instead opt for hanging it inside or tumble drying it.
The same goes for yourself. When you come in, Dr Puri advises you to 'take a quick shower and change your clothes after spending time outside. Consider washing your hair before you go to bed; otherwise all the pollen trapped in your hair during the day rubs off on your pillow and can trigger your hay fever even more'.
Dr Puri told Cosmo: "The classic symptoms of hay fever start when pollen encounters your nose and eyes. You may find it helpful to wear wraparound sunglasses and use a nasal filter to ease your symptoms."
It might not be the most stylish look, but when your eyes are constantly streaming from hay fever, we're betting you're willing to try anything.
You can also just rub some Vaseline on your eyelashes and inside your nostrils - lots of hay fever sufferers have reported that this helps create a barrier against the pollen and helps reduce your symptoms.
There are lots of over-the-counter medicines you can get to relieve your hay fever symptoms. Be aware that some can make you drowsy, so ask your pharmacist if that's an issue for you.
If your hay fever is beyond the help of shop-bought medicines, there are stronger tablets that your GP can prescribe you.
Hang in there, people!
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