Hay Fever

Hay fever is a common allergic condition that affects up to one in five people at some point in their life.

Symptoms of hay fever include:

  • Sneezing
  • A runny nose
  • Itchy eyes

The symptoms of hay fever are caused when a person has an allergic reaction to pollen.

Pollen is a fine powder released by plants as part of their reproductive cycle. Pollen contains proteins that can cause the nose, eyes, throat and sinuses (small air-filled cavities behind your cheekbones and forehead) to become swollen, irritated and inflamed.

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 any time from early spring to late autumn

Many people find that their symptoms improve as they get older. Around half of people report some improvement in symptoms after several years. In around 10%-20% of people symptoms go away completely.

Treatment

There is currently no cure for hay fever but most people are able to relieve symptoms with treatment, at least to a certain extent.

In an ideal world, the most effective way to control hay fever would be to avoid exposure to pollen. However, it's very difficult to avoid pollen, particularly during the summer months when you want to spend more time outdoors.

Treatment options for hay fever include antihistamines, which can help prevent an allergic reaction from happening and corticosteroids (steroids), which help reduce levels of inflammation and swelling.

Many cases of hay fever can be controlled using over-the-counter medication available from your CarePlus pharmacist. But if your symptoms are more troublesome it’s worth speaking to your GP as you may require prescription medication.

Who is affected?

Hay fever is one of the most common allergic conditions. Hay fever usually begins in childhood or during the teenage years, but you can get it at any age. The condition is more common in boys than in girls. In adults, men and women are equally affected.

Hay fever is more likely if there is a family history of allergies, particularly Asthma or Eczema.

It is sometimes possible to prevent the symptoms of hay fever by taking some basic precautions, such as:

  • Wearing wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting in your eyes when you are outdoors
  • Change your clothes and take a shower after being outdoors to remove the pollen on your body
  • Try to stay indoors when the pollen count is high (over 50).

Complications

Hay fever does not pose a serious threat to health but it can have a negative impact on your quality of life. People with very bad hay fever often find that it can disrupt their productivity at school or work.

Another common complication of hay fever is inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis). Children in particular may also develop a middle ear infection (otitis media) as a result of hay fever.

Ask your CarePlus Pharmacist for Hay Fever advice and treatment options