What is hay fever?
Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, causes cold-like symptoms. Unlike a cold, hay fever isn’t caused by a virus. Hay fever is caused by an allergic response to outdoor or indoor allergens such as grass and pollen. Hay fever is extremely common; it affects one in four people in the UK.
What are the symptoms of hay fever?
Hay fever symptoms typically mimic that of the common cold. These can include:
- Runny and/or blocked nose
- Itchy, red, and watery eyes
- Itchy nose
- Itchy roof of mouth or throat
- Swollen, blue-coloured skin under the eyes
- Postnasal drip
What causes hay fever?
Hay fever is caused by allergens, specifically pollen. Pollen is a fine powder that comes from plants. Exposure to allergens, such as grass and tree pollen, causes people with allergies to exhibit hay fever symptoms.
Typically, hay fever is worse at certain times of the year, specifically between late March and September. This is because these allergens are most present at that time of the year.
The allergens that most frequently cause hay fever are:
- Trees (late March to mid-May)
- Grass (mid-May to July)
- Weeds (end of June to September)
Some very early flowering trees produce pollen as early as January, meaning hayfever symptoms for people allergic to tree pollen can start at the very beginning of the year.
How can you treat hay fever?
There are several types of treatments for hay fever, including both pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments. Pharmacological treatments include antihistamine tablets. In addition, you can take a nasal spray to help ease congestion which is one of the most common symptoms of hay fever.
If standard hay fever treatments are no longer effective in treating your symptoms, your doctor can prescribe steroids or immunotherapy. Immunotherapy involves being introduced to small amounts of pollen, either through an injection or tablet, to build up an immunity to it. This treatment generally starts approximately 3 months before the hay fever season begins.
How can you try to prevent hay fever?
Medication such as antihistamine tablets and nasal sprays are typically the best way to treat hay fever. However, there are some precautions you can take at home to protect yourself from allergens. These can help prevent your hay fever symptoms from worsening:
- Vacuum and dust regularly
- Keep doors and windows closed to prevent pollen from entering your home
- Don’t cut or walk on grass
- Don’t smoke or be around smoke as smoking makes your symptoms worse. Consider Champix to help you quit smoking.
- Allergy UK recommends monitoring the pollen forecast each day and staying indoors on days where the pollen count is likely to be high.
- Avoid drying washing outside on days when the pollen count is likely to be high.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How can you tell the difference between hay fever and a cold?
There are a few differences between the common cold and hay fever:
- Hay fever occurs immediately following exposure to allergens, while a cold occurs 1-3 days after exposure to a cold virus
- Hay fever only lasts as long as you’re exposed to the allergens, while a cold will typically last 3-7 days
- A cold will have additional symptoms, such as a low-grade fever and body aches
Can you buy cheap hayfever tablets online?
Yes, you can purchase affordable hayfever tablets, as well as other hayfever treatments, online.
Does hay fever make you tired?
Yes. Generally, one of the symptoms of hay fever is tiredness. This, in addition to the other hay fever symptoms, can really affect your everyday life. There are a number of medications that can ease your hay fever symptoms.
What can you do if your hay fever tablets are not working?
If your hay fever tablets are not providing you with relief from your allergy symptoms, you should go see your doctor. Your doctor can prescribe either steroids or immunotherapy to alleviate your hay fever symptoms. However, this is only necessary in severe cases. Most people’s hay fever can be treated using one of these allergy medications.
Can you cure hay fever?
No, hay fever cannot be cured, however, there are medications you can take to ease your symptoms. In addition, there are precautions you can take to minimize your exposure to the allergens that cause hay fever, such as closing the windows in your house and vacuuming regularly.