In this guide to hay fever you can find out more about:
- Symptoms of hay fever
- What causes hay fever
- What time of year hay fever is most common
- Who can get hay fever
- How to treat hay fever in adults & children
- Antihistamines and how they work
Hay fever: main symptoms
Hay fever (or seasonal ) symptoms can vary during different parts of the year. The time of year you find your hay fever is triggered may indicate what sort of pollen you’re most allergic to, as different plants release pollen at different times (see “What kinds of pollen cause hay fever?”, below).
Your local pharmacist should be able to provide you with a diagnosis based on your symptoms, and you may not need to see your doctor. If you have some of the following symptoms, you may be suffering hay fever:
- Itchy, red or watery eyes
- Itchy throat, nose and skin
- Sneezing and blocked nose
- Runny nose
- A rash
- Asthma flare-ups
- Loss of smell
- Headaches and pain around the temples
- Feeling tired (or finding it difficult to sleep due to allergy symptoms)
- Sinus pain or (if you’re suffering from repeated sinusitis, you should talk to your doctor)
- Post-nasal drip (the feeling of mucus running down the back of your throat)
A less common symptom of hay fever is dizziness. If you have hay fever, your Eustachian tube (which connects your middle ear to the back of your throat) can become blocked with mucus. If this happens, it cannot equalise pressure in the ear, leaving you feeling unbalanced and dizzy.
Hay fever: causes
is a seasonal allergic reaction that is triggered by exposure to tree pollen, grass pollen and weed pollen entering the body. It can also be caused by pollen from flowers. Weed pollen comes from common weeds like nettles, ragweed, ribwort and mugwort. The most common that causes hay fever is grass pollen.
Pollen is a very fine powder that is released by plants as part of their reproductive cycles. It is an airborne allergen, which means it circulates on the air and can enter your body when you breathe. It can also cling to your clothes, skin and hair, so you can easily bring it inside with you. It is the protein found in pollen that triggers hay fever.
Hay fever: seasons and triggers
In the UK, hay fever is most common between late March and September, when the is at its highest. It can be worse when conditions are warm, dry or windy as pollen carries on the air. Hay fever tends to start in spring, then lasts until autumn as different kinds of pollen are released.
Tree pollen is released in spring, followed by grass pollen at the end of spring until the start of summer, then finally weed pollen in late autumn. Different kinds of pollens may trigger your symptoms more over hay fever season, making them more severe.
February – June
May – July
June – September
Who can get hay fever?
Hay fever is one of the most common allergies, and it’s estimated that one in five people get it at some point in their life. People can get it at any age, although it often begins in childhood. You’re more likely to develop hay fever if you already have a family history of allergies, as well as asthma or eczema (atopic ).
While some people may be more suspectable, there’s no way to predict who will suffer from hay fever, and it can develop at any time.
Children can also have hay fever, and 10 – 15% of children suffer from . If your child is displaying any of the symptoms above (like itching, sneezing and a runny nose), then there’s a chance they may have hay fever. Hay fever can be an inherited trait, so if you or someone in your family has hay fever there’s a chance your children may do as well. Read on to learn how you can treat hay fever in adults and children.
How to treat hay fever
While there is no cure for hay fever, there are some measures you can take to help prevent or treat the allergic reaction. The most effective step you can take is to avoid contact with the pollen that triggers hay fever altogether: this means staying inside and keeping doors and windows shut. However, this isn’t a very practical choice, especially in the summer!
Here are some tips for managing hay fever symptoms:
- Monitor pollen forecasts and consider staying indoors when it’s very high to avoid contact with pollen
- Take an medicine like Clarityn Allergy Tablets to relieve your allergy symptoms
- Use nasal sprays like Clarinaze Allergy Control Nasal Spray to relieve nasal symptoms like congestion
- Use eye drops to relieve itchy eyes
- After being outside on high pollen days, shower, wash your hair and clean your clothes when you get home as pollen can be carried inside on your clothes, body, skin and hair
- Apply a barrier around your nostrils like petroleum jelly to trap pollen before it can enter your nose
- Keep your home pollen free by regularly hoovering and damp dusting
- Wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting in your eyes
- Don’t keep freshly cut flowers in your home
- Avoid hanging up laundry outside, as pollen can cling to the fabric
- If you have asthma, make sure you’re taking your preventative treatment as prescribed and carrying your reliver inhaler with you during hay fever season
Hay fever: when to see a doctor
Typically, hay fever can be managed by preventative measures or antihistamine medication like Clarityn. If your hay fever symptoms are ongoing and start to get in the way of your day-to-day life, you should consider seeing your doctor.
If you experience symptoms such as swelling of the throat and lips, feeling lightheaded, difficulties breathing, or wheezing you should seek medical attention, as these could be signs of .
Hay fever: What are antihistamines and how do they work?
Antihistamines are a kind of medication which aims to provide relief from the symptoms of an allergic reaction. There are two main kinds of antihistamines: First-generation, which have a sedative effect (making you feel tired), and second- and third-generation, which has less prevalent drowsiness.
Antihistamines can be bought without a prescription over the counter and you can usually find them in your local chemist or supermarket.
To explain how antihistamines work, we first need to talk about and your .
Histamine is a naturally occurring chemical that is released by your immune system after being exposed to allergens. When you have hay fever, mast cells located in the sinus and nose membranes release histamine when you inhale pollen on the air. Histamine then attaches to receptors on nearby blood vessels, causing them to enlarge (dilate). Histamine also binds to other receptors located in nasal tissues, causing inflammation, redness, swelling, itching and increased mucus production – better known as the symptoms of hay fever!
Antihistamines are a medication that block the histamine receptors in your body, preventing the chemical from being released and triggering the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Antihistamines from Clarityn
Clarityn Allergy Tablets are an effective allergy treatment that contain loratadine, a second-generation antihistamine that is non-drowsy in the majority of users to provide 24-hour relief from hay fever and allergy symptoms.
If your children have hay fever, you can follow the tips above as well as checking out our handy guide on managing children’s allergies. When allergies strike, you can effectively treat hay fever with Clarityn Allergy Syrup. Clarityn Allergy Syrup is suitable for kids aged 2+ in a great-tasting mixed berries flavour, providing 24-hour relief from allergy symptoms so your kids can be kids all hay fever season.