Summer is just around the corner, the sun is starting to shine and flowers are blossoming… what we all look forward to each year, right? Unfortunately, some of us suffer from itchy eyes and a nose that will run further than you will this summer, the dreaded symptoms of hay fever. If that’s you, don’t worry you’re not alone, one in every five people are affected by this common allergic reaction at some point in their life.
What is Hay Fever?
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen, a fine powder created through the plant’s reproductive cycle. The proteins that are found in pollen can cause the reaction in the nose, eyes, throat and sinuses. As plants blossom at different times throughout the year, we can have reactions to different types of pollen which can affect us at different times respectively.
reproductive cycle. The proteins that are found in pollen can cause the reaction in the nose, eyes, throat and sinuses. As plants blossom at different times throughout the year, we can have reactions to different types of pollen which can affect us at different times respectively.
- Grass pollen – released at the end of Spring and the start of Summer (mid-May to July). 9 out of 10 people with hay fever are allergic to Timothy and Rye grass pollen.
- Tree pollen – released during the Spring (late March to mid-May). 1 in 4 people in the UK are allergic to tree pollen.
- Weed polled – released towards the end of autumn (end of June to September).
Hay fever affects over 10 million people in England alone, and although it usually begins in childhood it can affect people of any age. In most people, symptoms improve after several years, and in 10-20% people, symptoms completely disappear.
Treating Hay Fever
Unfortunately, there is no complete cure for hay fever. However, there are a few things you can do to either relieve or delay the onset of symptoms. The most effective way to combat hay fever is to avoid any exposure to pollen, but this is pretty difficult, unless you become a bedroom hermit. Wearing sunglasses can help reduce hay fever exposure saving you of the dreaded itchy eyes.
The most common treatment is the use of over-the-counter antihistamines which help prevent the allergic reaction, and corticosteroids, which help reduce inflammation and swelling. However, medication can often leave you feeling drowsy, not what you need throughout the working week.