Hay fever is a term that describes a condition that affects your nose and throat. It can be caused by allergies, and it can be passed on from one person to another by contact or sharing items.
Hay fever is a common condition, with around 1 in 2 people in the UK suffering from it at some point in their lives. It’s more common in people aged over 35.
Hay fever is most common in the spring and summer, but it can occur at any time of year.
Symptoms of hay fever
The symptoms of hay fever can vary from person to person. They may be the same for everyone, or they may vary depending on the type of hay fever you have.
Some of the most common symptoms of hay fever include:
- Watery eyes
- Itchy nose
- Itchy throat
- Stuffy nose
- Rashes on your face and body
- Runny nose
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Postnasal drip
- Sneezing after being exposed to pollen (hay fever season)
Risk factors for hay fever
Hay fever is more common in people who have a family history of allergies. It’s also more common in people who have eczema, asthma, or hay fever before they were a child.
It’s also more common in people who have hay fever in the spring or summer.
What is hay fever season?
Hay fever season is the time in spring and summer when hay fever can occur. It’s when the pollen in the air is very high.
You may also experience hay fever season if you’re around someone who has hay fever. The pollen in their nose can make you feel worse.
The amount of pollen in the air can be affected by wind speed, as well as the amount of pollen in the air during the day.
If you have hay fever, you may also experience symptoms of food allergy, such as:
How do you know if you have hay fever?
If your symptoms don’t go away or get worse, or if you’re not sure whether you have hay fever, you should see your GP.
They can diagnose hay fever by examining your nose. They may also ask you about your symptoms and your family history.
Your GP will be able to recommend a suitable treatment for you. They may recommend you take a decongestant nasal spray or a steroid nasal spray.
If you have a severe case of hay fever, your GP may refer you to a specialist doctor.
How to treat hay fever?
You may be able to treat your hay fever at home, or in some cases with the help of a GP.
Taking a decongestant nasal spray can help with the symptoms of hay fever. It can also help reduce the swelling and redness in your nose.
Steroid nasal sprays are also available. They’ll help reduce the swelling in your nose.
If you’re experiencing a lot of symptoms, your GP may recommend using a steroid nasal spray every day. This can reduce the amount of symptoms your body has to deal with.
If you’re allergic to pollen, you may want to avoid places where there’s a lot of pollen in the air.
Sleeping in a room away from windows can help reduce the amount of pollen that’s in the air.
You can also reduce your exposure to pollen by wearing a pollen mask. You can buy them from supermarkets or pharmacies.
You can also try alternative treatments for hay fever. These include:
- Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines
- OTC nasal sprays, such as fluticasone propionate
- Oral antihistamines, such as loratadine and cetirizine
- Inhaled corticosteroids, such as fluticasone propionate and budesonide
- Oral corticosteroids, such as prednisolone
You should always take antihistamines with food, and the same applies to nasal sprays.
You should not use a steroid nasal spray if you’re already taking an inhaled corticosteroid.
You should not use an inhaled corticosteroid if you’re taking an oral corticosteroid.
If you’re not sure whether you’re allergic to pollen, you should talk to a GP. They can help you decide whether you’re allergic to pollen or not.
You may be able to get your symptoms treated at home. Or you may need a referral to a specialist doctor.
The NHS has a useful guide about hay fever in young people.
The NHS also offers self-help advice for treating hay fever.
Can hay fever be prevented?
You can try to avoid being exposed to pollen in the air by avoiding places where there’s a lot of pollen in the atmosphere.
You can also try to avoid being around someone who has hay fever, especially if they have a lot of symptoms.
You can also try to avoid using hay fever as an excuse for not doing everyday activities.
You may be able to take steps to reduce your allergy symptoms. You can try the following to help reduce your symptoms:
- Take a decongestant nasal spray. You can buy these from pharmacies and supermarkets.
- Use an OTC antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine, loratadine, or cetirizine. These can help with your symptoms.
- Try to avoid getting your nose blocked. A nasal spray can help with this.
- Wear a pollen mask. This is a mask that covers your nose. It can help reduce your exposure to pollen.
If you’re over the age of 35, you can reduce your risk of hay fever by taking the following steps:
- Avoid being around someone who has hay fever.
- Avoid being around places where there’s a lot of pollen in the area.
- Wear a pollen mask.
You should also wear a mask when you’re outside. This can help reduce your exposure to pollen.
You should also avoid being around someone who has hay fever. This can be very difficult, especially if they do have hay fever.
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