What is Hayfever
Hay fever is a common allergic condition that affects up to one in five people at some point in their life.
Symptoms Of Hayfever
Symptoms of hay fever include:
- a runny nose.
- itchy eyes.
If you have an allergic reaction to pollen, you'll experience hay fever symptoms.
Pollen is a fine powder released by plants as part of their reproductive cycle. It contains proteins that can cause the nose, eyes, throat and sinuses (small air-filled cavities behind your cheekbones and forehead) to become swollen, inflamed and irritated.
You can have an allergy to:.
- tree pollen, released during spring.
- grass pollen, released during the end of spring and beginning of summer.
- weed pollen, released late autumn.
Many people find their symptoms improve as they get older. Around half of people report some improvement in symptoms after several years. Symptoms disappear completely in around 10-20% of people.
Who Can Be Affected By Hayfever?
Hay fever is one of the most common allergic conditions. It's estimated that there are more than 10 million people with hay fever in England.
You can get hay fever at any age, although it usually begins in childhood or during the teenage years. It's more common in boys than girls. In men, adults and women are equally affected.
You're more likely to develop hay fever if you have a family history of allergies, particularly asthma or eczema.
Self-help Tips For Hayfever
It's sometimes possible to prevent the symptoms of hay fever by taking some basic precautions, such as:.
When you're outdoors, - wearing wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting in your eyes.
- taking a shower and changing your clothes after being outdoors to remove the pollen on your body.
When the pollen count is high (over 50 grains per cubic metre of air), - staying indoors.
- applying a small amount of Vaseline (petroleum gel) to the nasal openings to trap pollen grains.
Hay fever and asthma.
Your asthma symptoms may get worse when you have hay fever if you have asthma. Sometimes, the symptoms of asthma only occur when you have hay fever.
These symptoms include:.
- tight chest.
- shortness of breath.
What Is Pollen count.
If the pollen count is high, hay fever symptoms are likely to be worse. The pollen count is the number of grains of pollen in one cubic metre of air.
Air samples are collected in traps set on buildings two or three storeys high. Taking samples from this height gives a better indication of the pollen in the air. Traps on the ground would only collect pollen from nearby trees and plants.
The air is sucked into the trap and the grains of pollen are collected on either sticky tape or microscope slides (glass plates). The pollen is then counted. Samples are normally taken every two hours, and usually the results are averaged over a 24-hour period.
The pollen forecast is usually given as:.
- low-- less than 30 grains of pollen in every cubic metre of air.
- moderate-- 30 to 49 grains of pollen in every cubic metre of air.
- high-- 50 to 149 grains of pollen in every cubic metre of air.
- very high-- 150 or more grains of pollen in every cubic metre of air.
When the pollen count is over 50, hay fever symptoms often begin. The pollen count is usually given as part of the weather forecast during the spring and summer months.
When to See Your Pharmacist
Most cases of hay fever can be treated using over-the-counter medication. Your local pharmacist can advise you on treatments for you or your children.
You usually only need to see your GP if:.
- you can't control your symptoms with over-the-counter medications, or you have troublesome side effects caused by the medication.
- you're experiencing persistent complications of hay fever, such as worsening of asthma or repeated episodes of sinusitis.
- the pattern of your symptoms is unusual, such as occurring during the winter or only at your workplace (it's likely that another substance other than pollen is responsible, and further testing will be needed to confirm this).