Many of us are preparing to meet the ‘phantom menace’ of spring – itchy eyes, sneezes, wheezes and more. Here’s how to fight back against hay fever and all the other nasties invading our air space
More than one in three of the population will be affected by some form of allergy during their lives. The figure soars to more than 50 per cent among children. And as each and every sufferer can testify, having an allergy more often than not equals misery.
Many of the causes are airborne. Hay fever is one of the most common allergies, affecting around a quarter of the population. According to the NHS, 95 per cent of hay fever sufferers in the UK are allergic to grass pollen and about a quarter are also allergic to tree pollen.
The Met Office official pollen count monitoring service runs from late March when tree pollen starts, through the grass pollen season in mid-May and finishing at the end of September when the weed pollen ends. In reality, the pollen season can start as early as January!
Other common allergies come from dust mites, mould spores and pet dander which can trigger various responses from respiratory reactions like asthma and eczema skin reactions. The severity of the reaction varies from person to person. For many people spring means the start of many months of suffering. But there are actions that can be taken to mitigate the symptoms of allergies. We asked allergy prevention expert Chris Michael, director of award-winning UK air purifier specialist Meaco, for his top tips.
Before doing anything, be sure to see your GP before the season starts so that you have the correct medication to hand, said Chris. Then, follow this checklist:
1. Get used to checking the pollen count on a daily basis so that you can plan your day.
2. Avoid drying clothes outside when the count is high as the pollen will stick to the fibres.
3. Plan outdoor activities after any rain as the pollen count will be lower.
4. When you come home change out of your outdoor clothes to prevent spreading pollen around the house.
5. Spring clean the house before spring so you are not sneezing and suffering while disturbing dust.
6. Clean mould in the bathroom regularly to avoid the spread of mould spores.
7. Ensure you have good ventilation in the bathroom and kitchen to remove excess moisture to avoid damp. Lower damp levels mean less mould spores and dust mites. If necessary buy a dehumidifier to reduce moisture levels.
8. Make your bedroom an allergy-free haven where you can rest and get a good night’s sleep. Air purifiers provide a solution that can provide relief from these allergens.
CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON WISELY
If you need an air purifier to help you fight the allergy war, it is vital that you know what you are looking for and select the right model. Decide what you want to remove from the air and then match that to the air purifiers filters. A HEPA filter is excellent at removing particles from the air like dust, pet dander and smoke particles. To remove smells though you need a charcoal filter and to destroy bacteria an ultra violet system (UVC).
Make sure the model is the right capacity for your room. Measure the length, width and height of your room to get the cubic volume, divide by the air flow of the air purifier to give you the number of times the air will be cleaned in an hour.
You should be able to divide your room size by the air purifiers air flow at least three times meaning that the air in the room is being cleaned three times an hour. If the allergy is bad you will need a product that can do this five times an hour and if the condition is severe then use a factor of seven.
Let the air purifier run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Put it on high fan speed when you are not in the room and turn it down to one of the quieter fan speeds when you are in the room. The more often the air passes over the filter the cleaner the air will become.