Hay Fever Facts
Hay fever, also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, affects one in four people in the Whole World and is mainly caused by grass pollen.
Hay fever is a type of allergy. It happens when your body makes antibodies in response to certain triggers, such as pollen. Nearly millions of people have hay fever in the whole world. It’s most common in children, particularly teenagers, but you can develop hay fever at any age.
The symptoms usually include sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and a stuffy nose.
Causes of Hay Fever
Around 95% of hay fever sufferers are allergic to grass pollen. Tree pollen can cause hay fever too. Around a quarter of hay fever sufferers are allergic to tree pollen. Mould spores and weed pollen can also trigger symptoms. This is because your body sees these pollens as a threat, so your hay fever symptoms are caused by your immune system attempting to prevent the spread of what it mistakenly thinks is a harmful organism.
The pollens that cause hay fever vary from person to person and from region to region. The amount of pollen in the air will affect how bad your hay fever is. It’s more likely that there will be more pollen in the air on hot, dry, windy days than on cool, damp, rainy days. Research shows that pollution, such as cigarette smoke or car exhaust fumes, also makes some allergies worse. Pollen can also attach to clothing, hair and pets’ fur, which means it can be hard to avoid even indoors.
When is Hay Fever Worst?
The time of year when you begin to experience hay fever symptoms depends on the types of pollen you’re allergic to. Trees release their pollen in March to early May, while grasses release pollen from late May to early August. Weeds and certain shrubs release their pollen in late summer. The hay fever season can therefore last from March to October. And if you’re unlucky enough to be allergic to more than one type of pollen, you may only have just two or three months without symptoms in the winter before the cycle starts again.
Tips to Relieve Hay Fever
Avoiding exposure to pollen is the best way to reduce the allergic symptoms of hay fever:
- Keep windows shut at night and first thing in the morning.
- Stay indoors when the pollen count is high (between 50 and 150).
- Wear wraparound sunglasses.
- Put some petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or another nasal blocker just inside your nostrils to trap some of the pollen.
- Don’t mow the grass or sit in fields or large areas of grass.
- Wash your hands and face regularly.
- Avoid exposure to other allergens, such as pet fur, or environmental irritants, such as insect sprays or tobacco smoke.
Treating Hay Fever
As with most allergies, the best way to control hay fever is to avoid the triggers. But it’s difficult to avoid pollen, particularly during the summer.
Even straightforward hay fever can be debilitating, causing runny eyes, sleepless nights, a bunged-up nose and headaches.
A range of over-the-counter products can treat the symptoms of hay fever, including tablets, nasal sprays and eye drops.