The term Hay fever broadly encompasses an allergic reaction to pollen from a variety of plants from trees to grasses and flowers.

You may dread the hay fever season. For different people this can last either for many months if they are sensitive to various types of pollens, or for a shorter period during the summer months if it's mostly a reaction to grasses. You will be very familiar with the symptoms that can range from mild to severe.

What happens when you have hay fever (also known as allergic rhinitis)?

When you suffer an allergic reaction, whether to pollen (causing hay fever symptoms), or to house dust mites, pet dander or mould spores, your immune system sees these substances as being harmful and reacts by producing an antibody. This is called Immunoglobulin E (IgE).  These antibodies cause the release of histamine, resulting in the allergic symptoms. (Hence an antihistamine is a substance that dampens down the histamine response, reducing the allergic symptoms).  

Symptoms of hay fever vary from one person to another but they typically include some or all of the following:  runny nose, sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes and exacerbation of both asthma and eczema. 

The main issue for most people with hay fever is how to survive the season. Many turn to antihistamines for relief and symptoms may be so bad that this is a necessity. However there are some fairly simple ways of reducing exposure to pollens and therefore helping to reduce the body's reaction.

Did you know that hay fever may also affect your mood? A review last year suggest that there can be a significant impact on the emotions particularly in adolescents. In our experience adults too can feel bogged down, fatigued and depressed.

 Hay fever may also affect your digestive system if pollens are ingested while you eat.

Tips on reducing your exposure.

 ~ Use a mask when you are outside and wear wraparound glasses. This reduces pollen affecting the eyes and being inhaled through the mouth and nose.

 ~ Try natural nasal products  - HayMax which can help block pollen from entering the nose or Sinus Plumber, which can help clear the nasal passages which may become congested and inflamed.

 ~ Make sure you install an air purifier in both your bedroom and the main living area of your home. This can make a significant difference to how much pollen you will be exposed to. It is important that you have areas in your home where you are as protected as possible and definitely make one of these areas your bedroom.

 ~ Make use of Allergy Sprays in the air, on furnishings and in the laundry. These will get rid of allergenic particles and reduce your exposure.

 ~ Be aware that pollen collects on your clothes and in your hair. Have a shower when you come in from school, work or shopping and wash your hair. If you can't manage this make sure you shower before bedtime and leave your clothes outside your bedroom.

 ~ Remember that pets will bring pollen in to the home on their coat so make sure they stay away from your safe havens. 

 ~ Dry washing indoors during high pollen periods as otherwise it will get covered in pollen which will be brought into the home and released into the air.

 ~ Read up on Oral Allergy Syndrome and consider temporarily eliminating foods that cross react with the particular type of pollen that causes you problems.

 See our Information on Hay Fever here for advice and products.