Allergies during exam season

Allergies during exam season

Research suggests that students who have allergies or hay fever on exam day are 40% more likely to drop a grade. However this percentage is increased to 70% if they take antihistamine treatments which can cause drowsiness.

Hay fever is caused by pollen from trees, grass and weeds. For most, hay fever is harmless but for some it can cause an allergic reaction which includes sneezing, itchy eyes and headaches.

To deal with the problem students have traditionally had a choice of taking medication and risking the drowsy effects that can follow or feel the full on force of hay fever symptoms.

However there are a number of precautions that can be taken in the run up to and throughout exam period, many of which are natural, without negative side effects which can tip the scales in students favour.


It’s important to protect the rooms where studying and sitting exams are taking place. Creating a good environment for study ensures students have the best chance when it comes to putting pen to paper. Air purifiers to rid rooms of pollen and other allergens, and steam cleaners also are good for providing a deeper level of cleaning. Both will make a huge impact on the amount of pollen present in your home. Don’t forget to protect your clothes too. Our Bio-Life Fabric Cleanse denatures 90% of pollen found on your clothes.

In the lead up to exam day

Try out products that can help before exam time so that way you know if they are suited to you.

On the Big Exam Day

If possible ensure any medication taken is non-drowsy. Remember to bring water and tissues into the exam room with you; keeping hydrated helps reduce side effects. Before the exam try and reduce the amount of time you spend outdoors and while indoors keep windows closed to reduce pollen intake. If you wear them don’t forget your glasses they offer an extra shield from pollen.

Hay fever? What hay fever? Good luck everyone!

All you need to know about Hay Fever

All you need to know about Hay Fever

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.

The hay fever season runs from;

  • February to June – Tree pollen
  • May to July – Grass pollen
  • September to October – Weed and shrub pollen

Symptoms of hay fever include:

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

Your GP will not always need to test you for hay fever as they can make a  diagnosis 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, your GP will carry out a skin prick test or a blood test to confirm hay fever.

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
  • Close windows 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.
  • You GP can administer Steroid injections in extreme cases
  • 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.
  • Take locally grown honey in the months prior to you symptoms normally appear

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?

There isn’t yet a cure for hay fever but symptoms can be controlled or lessened through various treatments. Hay fever is more common in teenagers and young adults and many sufferers find that the symptoms lesson with age, with some outgrowing the allergy completely.

How do I follow the pollen count?

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

  • 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.

Due to higher rainfall and a shortened pollen season Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have a decreased 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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