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What is Hay Fever?

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What is Hay Fever?

By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Apr 22, 2021

Around 10 million people in the UK suffer from Hay Fever, and unlike most people who look forward to spring and summer, people with hay fever face several months of misery as they battle with a severe allergic reaction to pollen that leaves them with painful inflamed eyes and runny noses.

What are the symptoms of Hay Fever?

There are a range of symptoms caused by Hay fever.  These include sneezing; a runny or blocked nose; itchy eyes, throat, mouth, nose, and ears; and a cough.   Sufferers will often have watery eyes that make it difficult to see.  During the peak of the hay fever season, many sufferers will find themselves unable to do normal activities due to the irritation.

For people with particularly severe hay fever, symptoms can be more extreme including facial pain as a result of blocked sinuses along with earache and fatigue.

What Causes Hay Fever

Hay fever is caused by an allergic response to pollen shed from plants.  All plants have their own unique pollen which can be shed at different types of the year.  When the pollen, which resembles a fine yellow dust is inhaled, it irritates the mucus membranes in the nose and throat as well as the eyes leading to inflammation.

Who gets hay fever?

Almost anyone can have hay fever, it usually begins in childhood, and in adults is found equally in men and women.  While many people grow out of Hay Fever over time, people who suffer from other allergies or asthma and eczema are more likely to suffer with the condition.

People with Hay Fever may only be allergic to specific types of pollen – for example tree or grass pollen – and this means that they suffer from the condition at different times of the year when the plants that most affect them are in flower.

In the countryside where there are more different plants, hay fever sufferers may find that their season of suffering is longer.  In cities, pollution can contribute to allergic reactions to pollen and make hay fever worse, although with fewer different plants around, city dwellers might find that their attacks are less frequent.

When is the hay fever season?

The times when plants flower in the UK typically runs from March until October with the peak period in Mid-June and high pollen levels present until late August.  During the peak season for Hay Fever, the weather reports will include information on the pollen count which is based on the prevailing weather conditions and the types of pollen which is found in the environment at a particular time.

Hay Fever caused by tree pollen is typically worst in early spring, pollen from grasses follows on from this during the later spring and early summer, while other plants including weeds tend to shed their pollen during the autumn months.  People who are sensitive to all three types of pollen may suffer throughout the whole of the season.

What is pollen count?

During the hay fever season, the weather forecast will include a report of the current pollen count to warn sufferers about what the conditions will be over the next few days.

The pollen count is a measurement of the number of grains of pollen per cubic metre of air.  The pollen count is usually rated from Low to very high, and on days with high counts, allergic reactions will be more severe due to the additional amounts of pollen in the air.

Does Hay Fever Affect People with Asthma?

Asthma sufferers will often find that their symptoms are worse during the summer months as a result of the extra allergens in the air that can trigger an attack.

With increasing numbers of people requiring treatment for asthma, Hay Fever is a growing concern as it can trigger a severe reaction that may result in sufferers being hospitalised.  As such, it is important for people with asthma to minimise their risk of exposure to pollen if they find that it makes their condition worse.

Preventing and Treating Hay Fever

It is possible to control hay fever with antihistamines which are widely available in chemists.  These can reduce the body’s reaction to allergic stimuli which means that hay fever is less debilitating during peaks in the pollen count.  While antihistamines are safe, long term use can cause problems with drowsiness.

Minimising exposure to pollen through wearing sunglasses outdoors and keeping windows closed on days with a high pollen count can help, although this may lead to air in a house becoming overly humid, particularly during the hottest parts of the year.  When windows are closed in a house, air circulation is minimised, which can in turn lead to condensation and damp.  This creates other problems in a property including dust mites and mould spores which also create an allergic effect.

Good ventilation using a positive input ventilation system that filters air entering the building to reduce the concentration of pollen while keeping indoor air fresh can alleviate many of the symptoms of hay fever and help sufferers enjoy the summer months more, particularly at night when symptoms can prevent sleep.

Protect Your Home and Health

If you suffer from hay fever or asthma and want to know more about how improving your indoor air quality can help to reduce your symptoms during the summer hay fever season, please contact us today to arrange a free home survey where our local specialists can provide advice about what you can do in your home.

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During the free home survey, one of our local experts will be able to discuss your options to install a ventilation system that will help reduce dust mites and prevent the build-up of mould and damp that could be damaging your health.
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