Hay fever is going to ruin my summer

That familiar itching in the nose has already begun

In a who’s who list of the worst illnesses and ailments, hay fever wouldn’t even get a look in at the “also rans” – yet it affects as many as one in four of the population.

Hay fever is a common allergy usually triggered by grass pollen. It’s estimated to affect 18 million people in the UK, and it’s really, really shit.

"Hey, fuck you hay fever"

Fuck you hay fever

The beginning

Just after the opulence of the Easter weekend, when moods are cheery and the sun is starting to burn the gingers and the Scots among us, the threat of hay fever draws ever closer.

As lawns start to be cut and teen sex once again becomes rife in our country parks, the hay fever sufferer starts to feel an itching in the nose.

Seen: the freshly cut grass. Not seen: the cloud of pollen ready to ruin your day.

Seen: the freshly cut grass. Not seen: the cloud of pollen ready to ruin your day

In Google terms, hay fever is “an allergy caused by pollen or dust in which the mucous membranes of the eyes and nose are inflamed, causing running at the nose and watery eyes”.

The mornings and evenings are normally the worst as the rise and fall of hot air causes the pollen to rise and fall into one’s eyes and nose.

The symptoms

Hay fever symptoms are obvious. Uncontrollable sneezing, nose running like a waterfall ,and streaming eyes are all commonplace, but can come and go depending on exposure to pollen, which is of course, invisible.

In the past, I have been walking the dog, as all good country folk should, with a nose as dry as any respectable man’s. Yet as soon as I arrive at a woodland I’ll immediately begin leaking from the face, before drying up completely and instantly upon exiting the wood.

It can strike at any time – and with great severity.

Don't walk the dog in the summer, not even to take pictures of gentle comedy.

Don’t walk the dog in the summer, not even to take pictures of gentle comedy

Rumours abound that, left untreated, hay fever can completely drain a human of mucal discharge in four hours.

The issues

As you can tell then, hay fever is wank. Preferable perhaps to a bout of severe food poisoning, but nonetheless low on most people’s wish lists.

The timing of hay fever season is most definitely the worst aspect of the condition. As the air starts to buzz with rogue wasps and the prospect of Anna’s infamous summer BBQ, hay fever strikes. You cannot enjoy a glass of Pimms in the park at lunch, or play 5-a-side at the weekend with Steven like you promised you would all through winter.

Your eyes water so bad you cannot see, and your nose is so runny that laboured breathing prevents any normal cognition. Thus sustaining a work ethic is difficult, wherever you are. Your sniffling will drive others insane.

You can’t escape to the cooler air outside because the pollen cloud is almost thick enough to taste; on the other hand, staying inside will leave you claustrophobic and impotently furious at your horrendous immune system. Sweltering offices and co-workers who assume your tears are genuine and not allergically induced compound the already hideous conditions.

If you do go outside, make sure you have access to cheap champagne to numb your senses

If you do go outside, make sure you have access to cheap champagne to numb your senses

There are only so many tissues a man can buy from the same shop before eyebrows are raised at his lifestyle habits. Those judgemental eyes widen further when you buy Vaseline too in order to soothe the chapped lips and nostrils so common with a heavy nose blower.

The meds

As with any common affliction, hay fever medication is available off the shelf. There is a plethora of options available, all of which you will have tried before and none of which will have worked.

Cetirizine Hydrochloride in liquid form tastes vile and in pills has an unconvincing effect at best. Loratadine needs near-ridiculous doses and a Beclometasone dipropionate (Beconase) nasal spray is as difficult to administer as it is to spell.

Some physical barriers to pollen entry can prove as effective as light medication

Some physical barriers to pollen entry can prove as effective as light medication

The NHS recommends not leaving the house on days with a high pollen count (basically every warm summer’s day) and to apply Vaseline liberally around the nose and eyes to trap pollen. Follow this advice and you are sure to be spared the worst of the hay fever, perhaps at the expense of a social life/access to fresh food/continued supplies of Vaseline.

So that was that. I hate hay fever and it ruins my life. But I’m not making a big deal of it, am I?

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