Middle aged and never suffered from hay fever? Why that could change
8th August 2012
Many of us presume that because we have reached maybe our 30’s, 40’s or 50’s and have never suffered from hay fever that we can safely assume that we will never suffer from it. However a growing number of middle aged people who have never suffered before from an allergic reaction to pollen before, are discovering for the first time this year the misery of a constantly runny nose, itchy streaming eyes and a prickly throat that just won’t clear. “Each year my colleagues and I see more and more middle aged men and older patients coming to our clinics for the very first time”, says Dr Suraniith Seneviratne, a consultant in clinical immunology and allergy at The Royal Free Hospital in London. Dr Seneviratne went on to add: “The idea that allergies affect only young people is I’m afraid, a bit of a myth.” Around 26 per cent of the adult population (12million people) suffer from allergic rhinitis, a term which covers all kinds of reactions to allergens, including hay fever. However al least a third of those (more than four million) are between the ages of 45 to 65 according to research company Datamonitor Healthcare, and according to experts that is set to rise. There are three main factors that are claimed to be behind this, with the first being our washed out summer that experts claim has created a perfect storm for hay fever. According to Patrick Suchon health business manager at the Meteorological Office: “Grass pollen, which is thought to cause 90 per cent of all hay fever, has had a bumper season. The heavy rain has created a particularly lush crop of grasses this year and while the rain dampens down the pollen count, when it stops and the sun comes out as it did last week; the pollen count goes very high, very quickly, as the plants make the most of the sunshine. Another issue is that because of the wet damp weather, mould spores which come from fungi such as mushrooms and decaying vegetation, which usually don’t appear until very late summer and early autumn, are being released early.” The second factor claimed to be behind developing hay fever late in life is the fact that our immune system can start to show signs of wear and tear as we get older. As we get older our immune system can start to become compromised by illness, long term stress or simply through ageing. Lindsey McManus, deputy chief executive of the charity Allergy UK says: “A weak immune system doesn’t mean you will get hay fever, but it could mean that you are more susceptible to it. We hear from people for whom hay fever becomes a problem after a severe illness or a run of nasty viruses or bugs.” According to Professor Roy Kennedy of the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit, the third reason causing people to develop hay fever later on in life is the introduction of new allergens. Professor Kennedy explains: “There are a lot of new species of plant being introduced in the UK. For example ragweed, which came from America and is now spreading throughout Europe, is a highly allergic plant producing very high rates of pollen. Added to this ragweed produces more pollen in wet years.” There are a number of medicines available to treat hay fever including Loratadine, a non-drowsy antihistamine which can provide relief from the symptoms of hay fever, Nasonex nasal spray which is a nasal corticosteroid spray for the relief of congestion, sneezing, itching and a runny nose. Prevalin is another nasal spray that lines the inside of your nose and actually deactivates the pollen, and finally there’s Alomide allergy eye drops that can bring relief from red, itchy, watery and puffy eyes if used regularly. Medical Specialists is an online pharmacy established since 1994 that can provide prescription hay fever medication such as Nasonex, following a simple online consultation with one of our in house Doctors. Our resident Pharmacists will then dispense and post out your medications for next day delivery. Following the recent expansion of our chemist shop, we now offer the previously mentioned products; Prevalin allergy nasal spray, Prevalin allergy kids nasal spray and Alomide allergy eye drops, which can all help to ease the symptoms of hay fever.