Hay fever is a common condition caused by an allergic reaction to pollen and spores in the air. It is a type of allergic rhinitis, according to the NHS, a condition whereby an allergen causes the inside of the nose to swell up. However, it can also affect the eyes and throat, making the sufferer uncomfortable.
What are the symptoms?
Common symptoms of hay fever include:
- Blocked and/or runny nose
- Itchy throat
- Itchy, red and watery eyes
- Loss of concentration
- Generally feeling unwell
Some may also experience:
- Facial pain
- Loss of sense of smell
Those who suffer from asthma may find their symptoms worsening when they also have hay fever. Some people only get asthma symptoms in conjunction with hay fever, in which case they may experience any of the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing and wheezing
- Tight chest
What causes it?
Hay fever is caused by breathing in pollen, which triggers an allergic reaction. Those who suffer from it normally find that symptoms are at their worst between early spring and late summer, depending on which type of pollen the patient is allergic to.
In early spring trees like silver birch, ash and oak are among those most likely to trigger an allergic reaction, BBC Health states. During mid-summer, profusely pollinating grasses such as timothy, rye, meadow and fescue are likely to cause problems, and in late summer weeds such as nettles and dock can be held responsible for hay fever.
The condition is sometimes passed on genetically, with some families more prone to allergies than others. Weather can also play a big part in determining the severity of symptoms. On humid and windy days pollen is spread more easily, but can be cleared by rain, for example.
How is it treated?
There are several different ways in which hay fever can be treated and medication can usually be bought directly from a pharmacy. BBC Health points out several types of hay fever treatments:
- Antihistamine tablets and nasal sprays
- Anti-inflammatory nasal sprays and nose drops
- Anti-allergy nasal sprays and eye drops
- Decongestant tablets and sprays
It is also possible to minimise symptoms by:
- Keeping up to date on the pollen count and staying indoors when it’s particularly high
- Wearing wrap-around sunglasses to prevent pollen from reaching the eyes
- Keeping windows and doors shut in mid-morning and early evening when pollen levels peak
- Avoiding parks and fields
- Changing into clean clothes when coming home and washing the ones worn outside
Images: Wikimedia CommonsTags: asthma