Guide | July 2023
How to cope with pollen allergy as a family
Pollen allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, can be disruptive for individuals and families alike. Up to 25% of children are affected by pollen allergies¹ and symptoms can disrupt their daily activities and reduce their overall quality of life.
The good news is there are some simple things you can do to make your child – and any other hay fever sufferer in the home – feel better. We explore valuable tips and strategies for coping with pollen allergies as a family.
Understand the basics of pollen allergies
Before delving into coping strategies, it’s crucial to understand the basics of pollen allergies. Pollen allergies are triggered by the immune system’s reaction to pollen particles from various plants, such as trees, grasses, and weeds. Symptoms include sneezing, congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes, and fatigue. By knowing the specific triggers and symptoms, families can take targeted steps to minimise exposure and alleviate discomfort.
Create an allergy-smart home environment
- Keep windows and doors closed during peak pollen seasons and use air conditioning or air purifiers with cooling instead.
- Regularly clean and vacuum your home to remove pollen particles that may have entered.
- To trap pollen, consider using air purifiers with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in bedrooms and living areas.
- Encourage family members to remove their shoes at the door to prevent pollen from spreading indoors.
Monitor pollen counts
Staying informed about pollen counts in your area is an effective strategy for planning outdoor activities. Several websites and smartphone apps provide up-to-date pollen count information. When the pollen count is high, limit outdoor activities or plan them during times when pollen levels are lower, such as after rainfall.
Create a ‘pollen-free’ zone
Designating a ‘pollen-free’ zone in your home can help create a sanctuary for family members with allergies. Pollen in bedrooms can be minimised by following these steps:
- Use allergy-proof bedding covers to prevent dust mites and pollen from collecting on mattresses and pillows.
- Use blinds or shades instead of curtains, as they are less likely to trap pollen.
- Implement a no-pets policy in the designated room to avoid pet dander, which can exacerbate allergies.
Wash away allergens and dress appropriately
Encourage your children to practice good personal hygiene and make sure their clothing protects them from pollen allergens.
- Shower before bedtime to remove pollen that may have been collected on the body and hair during the day.
- Encourage wearing sunglasses and a hat while outdoors to protect your child’s eyes and face from pollen.
- Wash clothes regularly, especially after spending time outdoors, to remove any lingering pollen.
Consult an allergist
If pollen allergies affect the quality of life for any family member, it’s advisable to seek professional help. An allergist can provide accurate diagnosis, prescribe appropriate medications, and offer personalised advice based on individual needs.
Living with pollen allergies as a family may present challenges, but by using these coping strategies, you can help minimise the impact on daily life.
Shop the solution
An allergen is a substance that can cause an allergic reaction by triggering the body’s immune system. Common indoor allergens include dust mite droppings, pet dander, mould, and pollen.
Microscopic, single-celled organisms that exist in their millions, in every environment. Not all bacteria are harmful, but some can have adverse effects, such as E. coli.
Benzene is colourless, flammable liquid produced by both natural and man-made processes. It’s a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke. Indoors, it comes from products such as glues, paints, furniture wax, and detergents.
Carbon dioxide (CO₂)
A colourless greenhouse gas, which comes from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels. Increased CO₂ levels can impact cognitive function.
This colourless, flammable gas is used in some building materials and household products. Sources can include some fabrics found in flooring and furniture, glues, paints, varnishes, air fresheners, and household cleaners.
This subtype of Influenza A virus, also known as swine flu, caused a global flu outbreak. H1N1 produces respiratory infectious diseases in humans and pigs. Symptoms can be similar to seasonal flu.
HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) is an air filter efficiency standard and a measure of a filter’s performance. To achieve this standard, filters must meet a minimum of 99.97 per cent particle removal at the most penetrating particle size.
A process of increasing air moisture content through the addition of water vapour or steam. Humidifiers can add moisture to the air in dry conditions, creating a more comfortable indoor environment when needed.
Airborne particles are usually described in microns. One micron is equal to one-millionth of a metre. The human eye can see debris and dust that are approximately 25 microns in size.
Nitrogen dioxide (NO₂)
Nitrogen dioxide is a liquid below 21.2 °C and a gas at higher temperatures. It is toxic to humans in both states. Gas stoves and space heaters are the most common indoor sources of NO₂ emissions. Other sources include improperly vented furnaces and water heaters.
Pet dander is made up of tiny particles of skin, saliva and urine, shed by animals with fur or feathers. Pet dander lingers in the air before settling on surfaces such as furniture, bedding, and fabrics. Exposure to these airborne particles can trigger allergies.
Particulate matter (PM)
Particulate matter contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets, measured in microns. Indoor PM can be generated through many day-to-day activities such as cooking, cleaning, and the burning of candles and fires.
The process of making something free of any contaminants or physical impurities. Air purification is designed to filter the air in your home – removing pollutants such as dust, allergens and viruses.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
Volatile organic compounds are potentially harmful gases found in many household products. Common sources include paints, varnishes, air fresheners, cosmetics, and cleaning products.
Pollen is a powdery substance released from seed plants as part of their reproduction process. It typically appears from trees in the spring, grasses in the summer, and weeds in the autumn. Pollen grains are among the most common allergens.
House dust mites
Dust mites are tiny insects that commonly live in household dust. They are one of the biggest causes of allergies. Each gram of house dust contains approximately 1000 dust mites.
A common name for a visible group of fungi, mould thrives wherever there is dampness – sending out millions of spores into the air. Exposure to mould occurs via inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion.
¹American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. (n.d.). Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever) in Children. Available at: https://acaai.org/allergies/types/hay-fever-rhinitis
²KidsHealth (2023). Seasonal Allergies (Hay Fever). Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/seasonal-allergies.html
³Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (2023). Allergic Rhinitis in Children. Available at: https://kingstonhospital.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/A0115-Allergic-rhinitis-in-children.pdf