summer allergies
Health and safety

Tackling summer allergies

Summer time allergies can prevent the whole family from getting out and enjoying the sun, that’s why it is good to know what to expect from allergic reactions and how to deal with them.

Summer allergies

Hayfever is a seasonal allergic reaction to pollen and it affects approximately 18% of children. Most commonly when people complain of hayfever symptoms the main causative agents are pollens from trees and grasses. The season can therefore last from March to September depending on the allergen.

The common symptoms include:

Stuffy or watery nose, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, headaches, tiredness and a general feeling of congestion. A child may be constantly wiping their nose, have dark circles under their eyes, complain of a tickly throat, be more irritable or tired and cough.

Hayfever symptoms if left untreated can lead to more serious problems like sinus infections, ear infections, even pneumonia and it is worth knowing that it is a risk factor for developing asthma later on in life.

summer allergies

Firstly, it is important to know that it is actually hayfever that you or your child is suffering from and this should be diagnosed by a medical professional who is familiar with the presentation and treatment of allergic disease. The cornerstone of treatment in allergy is avoiding the trigger, however, it is very hard to avoid pollen especially in the summer months when it is all around us.

Once diagnosed with hayfever there are a number of treatments options available:

1. Nasal douching helps to remove the pollens from the nasal passageways, these can be bought over the counter in your local pharmacy.

2. If suggested by your doctor the use of non- sedating oral anti histamines or low-dose intra nasal steroid sprays, these can be used as stand alone treatments or in combination, depending on the severity of your hayfever.

3. If symptoms are severe there is a desensitisation treatment available, this needs to be prescribed under the supervision of a medical doctor trained in allergies.

The following tips will help to minimise you or your child’s exposure to pollen:

  • Dry clothes indoors.
  • Have a shower once you have come indoors at the end of the day.
  • Wear wrap around sunglasses to protect your eyes.
  • Where possible on days when the pollen forecast is high, head for coastal areas.
  • Look at the pollen forecast daily and be aware you may need to take extra medication on days where the pollen count is very high.
  • Close windows.
  • Make sure the pollen filter in your car is on.

Food allergies

If you or a loved one suffers from food allergies this can be a challenging time. When packing for your summer vacation always ensure that you have the medication you or your child needs, do not leave this to chance. It is also a good idea if you are travelling to a foreign country where a different language is spoken to try and translate the phrase “I have a food allergy to ……”.

Further information where you can order food allergy cards which are translated into different languages.

Always remember to carry your adrenaline pen, antihistamines and inhalers in your carry on luggage and alert the flight crew if you suffer from a severe food allergy.

More like this:

Is your home making you sick
Why vitamin d is important
Top 5 tips to reduce allergy triggers in the home


Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.


Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.