Living With Hay Fever
What is Hay Fever?
Hay Fever is caused when the nose and/or eyes come in contact with environmental allergens: pollens, airborne moulds or dust mites. When your immune system is sensitive to one or more allergens present in the environment, the body experiences a range of visible symptoms. Hay Fever can last for weeks or months, unlike a cold, which usually goes away after 1 to 2 weeks. Hay fever is usually at its worst between Spring and late Summer, especially when it's warm, humid and windy. This is when the pollen count is at its highest.
Types of Hay Fever: Seasonal and Perennial
Seasonal allergic rhinitis: Symptoms may commonly occur in spring, summer, and early autumn when pollen count from grass, trees and weeds are high in the air. Other allergens can include airborne mould spores. Light breezes and gusts of winds can easily trigger seasonal allergic rhinitis.
Perennial allergic rhinitis: Symptoms of perennial allergic rhinitis are experienced all year round. Pet hair, dust mites and moulds are commonly known to trigger perennial allergic rhinitis. The symptoms have been known to get particularly worse at the beginning of pollen season when there is an increased number of allergens in the air.
Common Hay Fever symptoms
Hay fever can affect your day-to-day living and ability to perform routine activities such as going to work, attending school, playing a sport or going for social outings. For some people, the symptoms are mild and non-interfering. Some of the symptoms can be mistaken for a common cold or the flu, but it is important to note that allergy symptoms tend to persist until treated correctly. Here are the common symptoms of hay fever:
Symptoms of Hay Fever include:
• Sneezing and coughing
• A runny or blocked nose
• Itchy, red or watery eyes
• Itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
• Loss of smell
• Constant sensation of a head cold
If you have asthma, you might also:
• Have a tight feeling in your chest
• Be short of breath
• Wheeze and cough
Many people with asthma suffer from hay fever, whether seasonally or all year round. It's not uncommon for uncontrolled hay fever to lead to an increase in asthma symptoms and as such, managing your hay fever is a key part of controlling your asthma.
Helpful tips to manage Hay Fever Symptoms:
• Keep windows and doors in your house and car closed to reduce exposure to pollen.
• Wear wraparound sunglasses to help prevent eye irritation from pollen when outside.
• Keep pets outside and wash them regularly. Pet fur can hold pollen, particularly during hay fever season. If you’re suffering from allergies, be sure to wash your pet regularly to minimise symptoms.
• If possible, try to dry your laundry inside. This will reduce the risk of pollen getting onto clothes.
• Rub petroleum jelly e.g vaseline on your nose to prevent pollen from entering the nasal passage.
Hay Fever treatment:
A variety of treatment options are available over the counter and your pharmacist will be able to advise you on the most appropriate treatment option. It is recommended that you always discuss your symptoms in detail with your pharmacist and share information about any existing medical conditions.
Your pharmacist might recommend either a single product or a combination of products to manage the symptoms of your Hay Fever. Combination treatment can include a preventer nasal spray, eye drops and an antihistamine tablet. Antihistamines are a suitable treatment option for mild symptoms such as a runny nose and sneezing and usually work fast. In contrast, corticosteroid nasal sprays take a few days to show results but are more effective in treating blocked noses. Speak to your Life pharmacist if you have Hay Fever. They can give advice and suggest the best treatments for you. Find my local Life Pharmacy here.
Many people find ‘over-the-counter' medicines very effective in managing their symptoms. If your symptoms are more severe and ‘over-the-counter' medicine options aren’t relieving your symptoms, one of our doctors from our Life Pharmacy Online Doctor Service may be able to provide you with prescription medicine that you might find more effective.