I am going to put it out there, spring is my favourite season of the year! With blossoms starting to show around us, daffodils blooming and everywhere generally looking greener I feel myself smiling more and coming out of the winter cocoon (anyone else like me on this?!) However, one thing I do struggle with at this time of year is Hay Fever..
Hay Fever is one of the most common allergic reactions people can have. In the UK it is estimated over 10 million people suffer with some form and level of Hay Fever, with the majority of Hay Fever symptoms starting in childhood or teenage years. Interestingly boys are more likely to get Hay Fever than girls (although I can’t find a study which has found out why this is!!)
So what is Hay Fever?
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen, usually when it comes into contact with your mouth, nose, eyes and throat.
There are actually three different types of pollen which cause Hay Fever at different times of the year:
- Tree Pollen (usually occurs between February and June)
- Grass Pollen (The pollen most commonly causing Hay Fever usually occurs between May and July)
- Weed Pollen (Least common cause of Hay Fever usually occurring between June and September)
What are the signs and symptoms of Hay Fever?
For all types of Hay Fever you can develop any of the following symptoms:
- Itchy eyes or throat, mouth, nose and ears
- Sneezing, blocked or runny nose
- Watering, red eyes
- Headaches and/or blocked sinuses
- Pain around your temple or forehead
- Shortness of breath
- A feeling of mucus running down the back of your throat (This is called post-nasal drip)
Often, if you watch the weather forecast, you will hear them talk about low, medium or high pollen count. If the pollen count is high, your symptoms are likely to become more severe.
What can I do if I think I am suffering with Hay Fever?
Although there is no cure for Hay Fever, the good news is that there are a number of different things you can do to help alleviate your symptoms. Not all treatments or actions work for everyone so it can be trial and error finding what works for you. Here are a few things to think about:
- Wear sunglasses to help block pollen getting into your eyes
- Put Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen
- Avoid freshly cut grass
- Change your clothes if you have been outside and shower if possible
- Don’t spend too much time outside in the early evening when pollen count is often at it’s highest
- Close your windows at nighttime
- Vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth
- Take antihistamines each day to prevent a reaction. There are a number of different varieties available as tablets, drops or nasal sprays.
Look out for drowsy/non drowsy versions if you need to take into consideration driving or work.
- Eat local honey. Find honey which is made in your local area – this has been shown to help prevent Hay Fever from local pollens.
A number of Hay Fever symptoms can be confused with Covid however you would not expect a fever with Hay Fever, not a continuous cough (you may well cough a bit) or a loss of taste or smell. If you have any of these symptoms or are worried about Covid it is still best to take a lateral flow test to check.
Usually Hay Fever is annoying but not a severe allergic reaction. If however your symptoms make you struggle with breathing or are getting worse not better with treatments or the actions you take do see a GP.
For more information on all things allergies and Hay Fever check out: https://www.allergyuk.org/types-of-allergies/hayfever/
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