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Dealing with Hay Fever

Dealing with Hay Fever

What is it?

Hay fever, (also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis), is a seasonal allergy to airborne pollen particles.  Resulting in the inflammation, swelling and irritation of nose, eyes, throat and sinuses.

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. 

Types Symptoms Diagnosis Treatment FAQs Stats

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 normally required, as your GP should be able to diagnose from a description of your symptoms.

It is best to inform your GP of the reactions you have been having, and the times of day or night, or season of the year that you have 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, as it may not be hay fever, but rather a food, animal, chemical or dust mite allergy.

Tips to prevent symptoms:

  • Carrying your medication, tissues and a bottle of water at all times
  • Checking 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 cloths and wash your hands, hair and eyes often to get rid of any pollen spores.
  • Keep windows closed when inside.
  • Wearing sunglasses can protect your eyes from any pollen grains.

  • Anti-histamines in the form of tablets or nasal spray will relieve sneezing, runny nose, itching of throat and eyes, and should help with watering eyes.
  • Anti-inflammatory nasal sprays, which reduce inflammation in the nose, and normally contain steroids.  An example is the Salcura Natural Hay Fever Nasal Spray, which is 100% free from any chemicals or artificial additives. Or if you prefer a vapour rub, the Naturally Cool Kids range offer a vapour stick which is perfect for children to use themselves as often as required.
  • HayMax is a completely natural nose balm which is an effective pollen barrier that prevents pollen entering your body. It will not cure your allergy to pollen but can reduce symptoms such sneezing, itchy eyes, throat and ears.
  • Decongestant tablets are used to 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.
  • The Saltpipe is a natural product which aims to provide relief to those who suffer from breathing problems. It has been known to aid everything from asthma and hay fever, to chronic snoring. It can also help those who suffer from shortness of breath, severe coughs and colds and the effects of a smoky, polluted environment.
  • 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?

Hay fever 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 that get into the upper respiratory passages – the nose, the throat and the eyes, which often occurs because the body as an excess amount of mucus, creating the perfect environment for irritants to settle. 

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; and you may be more susceptible to pollen if one or both your parents suffer from hay fever.

Is there a cure for hay fever?

No, but symptoms can be controlled or lessoned through various treatments. Hay fever is found mostly in teenagers and young adults, and 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.

  • Hay fever is the most common allergy in the UK
  • 1 in 5 people are affected by it, which is above 12 million people
  • In the UK, most people suffer between June and early August, but depending on the type of pollen the sufferer is allergic to; symptoms can be experienced all year.
  • 80% of women suffer itching eyes, whereas only 65% of men do.
  • Only 5% of hay fever sufferers don’t suffer from eye problems brought on by the allergy.
  • Hot or humid weather brings on higher pollen levels.
  • 47% try to ignore their symptoms, and 10% of men do not prepare for having hay fever at all.
  • Early mornings and evenings have the peak pollen count during the day.
  • Families who suffer from other allergies; such as eczema or asthma; or more susceptible to a pollen allergy also.
  • Teenagers and young adults (16-24) are the most heavily affected age group, with symptoms lessoning with age.  69% of teenagers and young adults report the most severe symptoms.
  • Many people dismiss symptoms as a cold or flu, as they have many of the same results, therefore not getting a diagnosis from your GP, means not getting the treatments suited to your hay fever needs.
  • 86% of sufferers don’t know what type of hay fever they have, and what pollens they are allergic to.