Hay fever is the term used when a person is allergic to pollen. This is quite common in the UK, affecting around 20% of the population. The condition can first begin at any age, and indeed some people may not get any hay fever symptoms until well into their 20s or 30s, but is more likely to begin in childhood.
Hay fever affects the nose, sinuses, throat and eyes. Some of the most common hay fever symptoms include itchy, red and watery eyes, a blocked or runny nose, coughing, sneezing tiredness and wheezing.
The aforementioned symptoms usually occur in the majority of different types of allergic reactions, for example dust or animal hair. The symptoms present themselves due to the body releasing the chemical ‘histamine’. The chemical is produced as a person comes into contact with the trigger, i.e. pollen, and the body then emits antibodies as a way to try and combat the allergen it has come into contact with.
Those with hay fever may notice they have no symptoms whatsoever during the winter months as their allergies are connected to pollen in the air. Pollen is released in the air typically in spring and summer when grass, flowers, trees and plants are flourishing. It is at this time when people with hay fever will likely feel their symptoms begin.
Unfortunately allergies and hay fever cannot be cured, but it can be treated in a number of different ways. Ideally, those with such problems would avoid the allergen altogether that is responsible for their symptoms, such as grass or tree pollen. However, sometimes that just isn’t always practical or possible.
Hay fever nasal sprays such as Nasonex and the brand new combination treatment Ryaltris Nasal Spray instead work to target the affected area, i.e. reducing inflammation and irritation inside of the nose as well as relieving symptoms such as a stuffy or runny nose.
It may be difficult to avoid pollen completely, but you can do a number of things to minimise exposure and the effect of symptoms. For example:
- Put Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen.
- Wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes.
- Shower and change your clothes after you have been outside to wash pollen off.
- Stay indoors whenever possible.
- Keep windows and doors shut as much as possible.
- Vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth.
- Use a pollen filter for the air vents in your car and a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter.