A doctor's guide to managing the hay fever season A doctor's guide to managing the hay fever season

A doctor's guide to managing the hay fever season

Approximately 25% of adults suffer from hay fever, and the symptoms can be uncomfortable. Small lifestyle changes are recommended to manage the condition and make it through hay fever season.

 

As temperatures rise and spring approaches, we may experience hay fever symptoms. Here is a doctor's guide to the condition, including the common triggers and some tips on how to help relieve your symptoms from the comfort of your home.

 

If you experience signs of a severe allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing and swelling around the lips and tongue, it is essential to seek urgent medical care. Mild allergies, such as hay fever, are common, but it is essential to be aware of the signs of a more severe reaction.

What exactly is hay fever?

Hay fever symptoms typically include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy and watery eyes, and nasal congestion. It can also cause headaches, fatigue, coughing, and sore throat. People with hay fever may also experience impaired sense of smell and taste. Treatment for hay fever may include avoiding triggers, taking medications such as antihistamines, and using decongestants.

 

Our body has a natural defence mechanism activated when we come into contact with something we are allergic to, like pollen. Histamines are released to help protect us from the allergen; in some cases, the response can be excessive, leading to discomfort. The severity of allergic reactions may vary from person to person, with some people being more susceptible than others, which is thought to be a result of lifestyle, genetic, and environmental factors.

 

As the hay fever season arrives, many people are plagued by streaming eyes, sneezes and runny noses. Fortunately, we now understand more about making small lifestyle changes and using simple treatments to relieve these unpleasant seasonal symptoms.

How can I manage hay fever myself?

Some simple home remedies can help you manage your symptoms of hay fever. Here are 5 of our top recommendations to try out:

Use over-the-counter treatments

When searching for help with hay fever, your local pharmacy can be a great place to start.

Plan ahead

Pay attention to which days may be worse than others. In particular, dry, windy days with a high pollen count often result in hay fever symptoms, and it is recommended to take antihistamines beforehand.

Stay indoors

For those who suffer from hay fever, it can be difficult to avoid high pollen days due to work, school, and other commitments. Staying indoors with the windows closed on such days is only sometimes possible, making it difficult to reduce exposure to pollen.

Wash clothes (and pets)

On days when pollen levels are high, it is beneficial to shower and do your laundry when you come back indoors to reduce hay fever symptoms.

Dry clothes indoors

When you hang laundry out to dry, you increase the pollen you come into contact with.

When is hay fever season?

During the spring and summer, plants release pollen in the form of trillions of microscopic particles, which can cause hay fever symptoms for many people.

 

During the hay fever season, pollen count is often reported in the weather forecast. This indicates the amount of pollen in the air on any given day. People who suffer from hay fever should take note of the pollen count, as it usually increases their symptoms when it is higher. Therefore, they may choose to limit their outdoor activities during these times.

What types of pollen affect hay fever, and when?

Plants use pollen to reproduce, and the type of pollen released from one plant can vary from another. Furthermore, certain types of pollen can be more allergenic than others, and some people may experience a more significant reaction to a specific type of pollen than others.

Grass pollen

Hay fever is commonly caused by pollen, which is usually most active between May and July.

Tree pollen

People can start to feel the effects of trees as early as February and as late as mid-summer. Furthermore, people may respond differently to different types of trees, making the effects more individualized.

Weed pollen

During the warmer months of June to September, people are more likely to experience hay fever due to weed pollen. Common weeds which can cause hay fever include dock, nettles, mugwort and ragweed.

Crops

During the harvest period, oilseed rape can be a source of trouble. This crop may need help from farmers in the days leading up to and during the harvest.

 

By performing an allergy screening, you can test your reaction to various pollens individually, allowing you to plan for times of the year when you may need to be more mindful of your hay fever.

Common signs of hay fever

Hay fever can cause symptoms such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, and coughing, making you feel unwell. Additionally, hay fever symptoms can be similar to other allergies, such as pet or dust allergies.

 

Symptoms often associated with hay fever include:

  • Runny nose

  • A sore throat

  • Sneezing
  •  
  • Poor sleep

  • Feeling very tired and generally unwell

  • Swollen, red and sore eyes

  • Itching

 

Hay fever can cause various symptoms, including headaches, earaches, and even changes in taste and smell.

 

Those who suffer from allergic rhinitis can find relief with over-the-counter medications, such as oral antihistamines, steroid nasal sprays, and antihistamine eye drops. It is best to use these treatments at the beginning of hay fever season for the best outcome.

 

Who is more at risk of hay fever?

For those with asthma and hay fever, managing both conditions becomes even more critical during the hay fever season. Studies have found that almost 80% of people experience worsening asthma symptoms when their hay fever flares up; some may even suffer from severe asthma attacks. Taking the time to manage both conditions carefully can help to alleviate these issues.

 

Those with hay fever are more likely to suffer from asthma or eczema, and vice versa. Additionally, those who have a family member with hay fever are more likely to have it themselves due to a genetic predisposition.

Is hay fever common in children?

Hay fever is not typically seen in children under the age of five. Yet, hay fever rises sharply to approximately 40% after that age, making it a common condition in children.

 

Hay fever may not be considered a severe condition, but it can impact a child's life. It can lead to days off school, missing out on trips and days out, and cause difficulty sleeping. However, its effects can be managed with medication if appropriately administered.

 

As we age, some of us may find that our hay fever symptoms diminish, which may be due to changes in the immune system. However, 10-30% of adults still suffer from hay fever.

How can I treat hay fever in children?

It is essential to ensure that the type and dosage of hay fever treatment for children is appropriate for their age. It is recommended to consult a doctor for advice if you are unsure or if managing hay fever in a child is challenging. Always follow the instructions provided on the product box.

Should I see a doctor for hay fever treatment?

Hay fever can cause various unpleasant symptoms that can interfere with day-to-day life. It can cause difficulty breathing, affect your mood, reduce your ability to work or leave the house, and leave you feeling drained and exhausted. Thankfully, hay fever is manageable, and many treatment and management options are available.

 

If over-the-counter medications are insufficient to manage hay fever symptoms, a doctor visit should be arranged. Prescription medications may be more appropriate for the condition, or an allergy specialist may be needed in severe cases.

 

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