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With the Met Office’s forecast of a high pollen count over the next few days, local health care professionals are offering some useful advice to those who suffer from a hay fever allergy.

Dr Hasan Chowhan, a GP in Colchester and chairman of NHS North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It’s reckoned that one in five people suffer from hay fever and the high pollen count over the next few days marks the start of the hay fever season - which can be an uncomfortable time for many. The symptoms include a runny, itchy or blocked nose, sneezing and itchy, red and watery eyes.

“One of the best ways to control hay fever is with antihistamines, which you can buy without prescription from the pharmacy. Start taking them now so they can get into your system. Taking antihistamines regularly is much more effective than taking them only when your symptoms are bad.

Dr Christopher Browning, a GP in Long Melford and chairman of NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “You don’t need a prescription for hay fever medicine, so I would recommend patients with hay fever symptoms to make their pharmacy the first place to go for help and advice.

“Additionally, you can help protect yourself from hay fever symptoms by wearing wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes. Taking showers and changing your clothes after being outdoors helps prevent pollen spreading around your home. Staying indoors when the pollen count is high and smearing a small amount of Vaseline inside your nose helps to prevent pollen settling on the inside of your nose.”

Tania Farrow, Pharmacist and Chief Officer of Suffolk Local Pharmaceutical Committee said: “Don’t let hay fever symptoms keep you indoors as the weather improves. Community pharmacy staff are fully trained on the products available and the best way for you to manage your symptoms, so that you can still enjoy COVID safe time outside with family and friends.”