IT is important more than ever to get hay fever under control, says family doctor Jane Wilcock.

The GP, who lives in Harwood, said that getting the allergy under control can reduce sneezing and other symptoms and as a result help to contain covid-19.

The Bolton News:

Dr Wilcock said: "Spring has arrived and trees are bursting into leaf and flower. I look forward to cherry blossom but for some this is the start of their hay-fever season as allergic to various pollen. We must be careful not to stigmatise people with chronic coughs or sneezing during the coronavirus pandemic.

"However, this is an excellent time to get hay-fever under best control and reduce sneezing when out on our daily exercise.

"People can buy products from pharmacies and supermarkets, or speak to their pharmacist or general practice clinicians for advice.

"Confusingly all medications have two names, the brand name is in big writing on the container, decided by the manufacturer, and the medical ingredient is usually found in smaller type. Therefore, different manufacturers may offer the same medication under different trade names."

The Bolton News:

She added: "Hay fever in spring is due to tree blossom, in summer grass pollen and in autumn fungal allergy.

"People often know their hay-fever season. Hay fever can cause itchy, red, watery eyes, an itchy, runny nose, sneezing, cough, itchy roof of mouth or throat and fatigue. Self-care can be putting Vaseline around nostrils to trap pollen, wearing wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into eyes, avoiding recently cut grass and staying inside"

Allergies release a chemical called histamine, so antihistamines are usually effective, said Dr Wilcock.

"Antihistamines are easy to take by mouth as a tablet, or for children over two-years-old as a liquid, usually once a day on sunny days when the pollen count is high. If the pollen count is low they don’t need to be taken," she explained.

Common names for antihistamines are Cetirizine and Loratadine. One of the oldest used antihistamines is Chlorpheniramine ­— often tra­de-named as Piriton ­— which can be taken more than once a day but is more likely to cause drowsiness.

Dr Wilcock said: "If there are only eye or nose symptoms, people may prefer to use local eye drops or nasal sprays, rather than take a tablet."

There are two sorts of eye drops available. The first contains sodium cromoglycate, one drop into each eye four times a day.

Dr Wilcock said: "This treatment should be continued throughout the persons hay-fever season as it is a prevention, so is not helpful if used on the day only.

"Alternatively, an antihistamine eye drop, containing azelastine, may be effective and used just on the day of symptoms."

Nose symptoms can be treated with local steroids as a nasal spray, but says Dr Wilcock they take a few days to work and need to be continued throughout the person's hay fever "season". She added there is also a nasal antihistamine spray which can be used on the day.

Dr Wilcock concluded: "Anyone coughing or sneezing, even though not thought to be due to coronavirus, should still use tissues and bin them when home. If these therapies aren’t useful then you should ask for professional advice. Enjoy the dry weather when out for the hour’s exercise, we had enough rain over the winter, and continue to physically distance by six foot and ramp up hygiene to keep our risks of getting and transmitting coronavirus down whilst waiting for treatment and vaccine development."

The NHS provides advice at: