What is hay fever?

Hay Fever is a seasonal allergy to airborne pollen particles.

It can cause sneezing, runny or blocked noses, itching in eyes, throat nose and ears, excess mucus, and red or watering eyes.

It does not have the symptoms of a fever, nor is it an allergy to hay, but rather the most prominent occurrence of hay fever is during the haying season.

There are 3 types of hay fever, tree, grass and weed/shrub pollen, each affecting people at different points of the year.

Some sufferers may be affected by 2 or all 3 of the allergies, resulting in a prolonged hay fever season.

  • Tree pollen is released from February to June
  • Grass pollen is released from May to July
  • Weed and shrub pollen is released from September to October.

Symptoms of hay fever include:

  • Sneezing
  • Blocked nose
  • Runny nose
  • Postnasal drip
  • Coughing
  • Itchy throat
  • Itchy eyes
  • Itchy nose
  • Watering Eyes
  • Red rimmed or swollen eyes
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Crusting of eyelids

Testing for hay fever is not always required, as your GP should be able to diagnose from a description of your symptoms. Tell your GP the reactions you have been having. Remember to include the times of day or night, or season of the year that you experience them.

In rare circumstances, a skin prick test or a blood test will be carried out by your GP to confirm hay fever. This might be done if you are suffering all-year-round. This means it may not be hay fever, but rather a food, animal, chemical or dust mite allergy.

Tips to prevent symptoms:

  • Carry your medication, tissues and a bottle of water at all times
  • Check the pollen forecast via TV, radio or online, can help you plan your day to best avoid high pollen counts.
  • Blow your nose regularly and gently to remove pollen grains
  • Change your clothes and wash your hands, hair and eyes often to get rid of any pollen spores.
  • Keep windows closed when inside.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from any pollen grains.

Treatment for hay fever:

  • Anti-histamines relieve sneezing, runny nose, itching of throat and eyes, and should help with watering eyes.
  • Anti-inflammatory nasal sprays, reduce inflammation in the nose, and normally contain steroids.
  • Decongestant tablets unblock a stuffy nose.
  • Bio-Life produces a range of sprays for your home to help reduce and neutralise the dust mite, pet & pollen allergens that are found in the home and that cause allergic reactions.
  • Steroid injections can be administered via your GP in more severe cases, but have negative side effects such as cataracts, osteoporosis and skin thinning.
  • Air purifiers are used to clear homes of pollen, so hay fever sufferers can relax comfortably in their own homes. Air purifiers, remove airborne pollen particles, along with other allergens from the air, allowing you to breath more easily. The AirFree Air Purifiers air filter uses convection to draw in particles and viruses to the ceramic core, where they will be incinerated.
  • Honey grown locally to you can be taken in the months before your symptoms normally appear to ease their outcome.

Why do I have hay fever?

It can be a sign that you have an imbalance in your system. It is an allergic reaction to airborne substances such as pollen and spores.

Am I more likely to have hay fever if it runs in my family?

It is not yet known exactly why some people develop an allergy to substances such as pollen, but for some people it can run in families. You may be more susceptible to pollen if one or both your parents suffer from hay fever.

Is there a cure for hay fever?

Not yet but symptoms can be controlled or lessened through various treatments. Hay fever is found mostly in teenagers and young adults. Many people find that the symptoms lesson with age, with some outgrowing the allergy completely.

How do I follow the pollen count?

Pollen counts are heavily affected by the amount of sunshine, wind and rain. It is a measure of the number of pollen grains in a cubic metre of air, averaged out over a 24 hour period.

  • Low – <30, only highly sensitive hay fever suffers will experience any symptoms.
  • Moderate – 30-49, may produce mild symptoms to sufferers.
  • High – 50-150, most hay fever suffers will experience symptoms.

Which parts of the UK are hot-spots for hay fever?

Large cities tend to be worse for those with hay fever, as the high air pollution can aggravate symptoms even in low pollen count areas.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland tend to be less affected as their pollen seasons are shorter, and due to their higher rainfall decreasing the pollen count.

Areas with mountains and moors tend to be less affected, as the vegetation in these areas is less allergenic.

Inland, lowland areas (like the Midlands) record the highest pollen counts, with coastal areas tending to have the lowest recordings.

Find out more about Hay Fever or other allergies at Allergy UK.

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