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How to spot and tackle hay fever

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Anyone who has suffered from hay fever will know how frustrating it can be.

When the sun comes out, most people want to head outside and enjoy it, but for those with hay fever it can keep them indoors and put a dampener on their favourite time of the year.

Some people may not even realise they are suffering from hay fever and instead think it’s a ‘summer cold’ that just won’t budge, which can be even more frustrating.

Help is at hand, however, as Allergy UK has put together the following help and advice on how to spot the symptoms of hay fever and – more importantly – how to tackle and control it to help make your spring and summer an enjoyable and sneeze-free period.

What is hay fever?

Hay fever is a common allergic reaction which occurs at particular times of the year. It is known as seasonal rhinitis, sharing symptoms with perennial (year round) allergic rhinitis, but occurring as a reaction to pollen from grass, trees and weeds during the early spring and summer months. It can affect both adults and children.

What causes it?

It is caused when the body makes allergic antibodies (IgE) to certain substances, such as pollen, house dust mites or mould, which are known as allergens.

When does it occur?

Grass pollen is the most common allergen (May to July), but tree (February to June) and weed (June to September) pollens can also cause the allergic reaction we know as hay fever. In perennial allergic rhinitis the symptoms continue all year round and usually relate to indoor allergens, such as house dust mites, pets, including birds, or moulds.

What are the symptoms?

  • Itchy eyes/ throat
  • Sneezing, blocked/runny nose
  • Watering, red eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)
  • Headaches, blocked sinuses
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness
  • The sensation of mucus running down the back of the throat, which can also be a symptom, is called ‘post-nasal drip’
  • These symptoms may become more severe when the pollen count is high

How do I manage hay fever?

These unpleasant and sometimes debilitating symptoms can be relieved by avoidance of the allergic triggers and the use of antihistamines. However, there are other way to help combat the symptoms and minimise your risk.

Top prevention tips

  • Monitor pollen forecasts daily and stay indoors wherever possible when the count is high (generally on warmer, dry days)
  • Rain washes pollen from the air so counts should be lower on cooler, wet days
  • On high pollen days, shower and wash your hair after arriving home and change your clothing
  • Avoid drying washing on a clothes-line outside when pollen counts are high

Allergy UK is a leading national charity dedicated to helping people who suffer from allergies. For more information on how to identify a range of allergies and help and advice on treating them, visit


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