Hay Fever

hayfever

What is Hay Fever?

Hay Fever is a seasonal allergic reaction that commonly occurs during early spring and summer months. It is also known as seasonal rhinitis. Hay Fever can affect both young children and adults. It’s an allergic reaction to pollen from grass, trees and weeds. Unlike colds, Hay Fever usually lasts for weeks and months. Pollen is a fine powder-like substance that we breathe in mainly through our nose and it can also enter through the eyes. The immune system identifies pollen is a foreign body and initiates an immune response to clear it from the body. It is this immune response that causes the main symptom of runny nose and sneezing.

What are the main symptoms of Hay Fever?

Some of the key signs and symptoms associated with Hay Fever are :

  • Runny Nose with blocked ears
  • Itching, redness or watering of the eyes
  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Irritation of the throat
  • Pain around the temples and forehead
  • Headache
  • Itching of the nose, mouth or ears
  • Blocked sinuses
  • Earache

If you are asthmatic, you might also experience tightness of the chest, wheezing and cough. Unlike a cold which goes away in 1-2 weeks, hay fever can last for weeks or months.

What are the treatment options for Hay Fever?

There is no cure currently for hay fever, however, there are several medicines that can help with the management of the symptoms of hay fever. Most hay fever medicines are available as over the counter medicines for the treatment of hay fever symptoms. These include antihistamine tablets, steroid sprays, eye drops, and syrups for children. For patients that do not respond to the over the counter medicines, there a number of high strength prescription-only medicines available. These include:

  • Fexofenadine tablets (Telfast) – As a prescription-strength antihistamine, fexofenadine tablets are used to treat severe hay fever symptoms. Being a non-drowsy antihistamine, it is less likely to make you feel sleep compare to the other antihistamines, although some people still find that it makes them feel sleepy. Fexofenadine tablets are also available under the brand name of Telfast. 
  • Mometasone nasal spray (Nasonex) – Mometasone nasal spray contains a corticosteroid that can effectively treat symptoms of hay fever in adults mainly due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Mometasone nasal spray is also available under the brand name of Nasonex.

You will need to complete a questionnaire which will be reviewed by a prescriber to establish your suitability for the treatment.

What can you do to ease your hay fever symptoms?

When the pollen count is high, there are things that you can do to help ease your hay fever symptoms. These include:

  • Put Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen and stop it from entering your nose. 
  • To stop pollen from entering your eyes, wear wraparound sunglasses.
  • Try to stay indoors when the pollen count is high. 
  • Vacuum your house regularly and dust with a damp cloth. 
  • Shower and change your clothes when you come back from the outside to wash off the pollen.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and get a pollen filter for your car air vents.

Try to avoid the following:

  • Do not cut grass or walk on the grass.
  • Avoid spending too much time outdoors when the pollen count is high.
  • Do not hang clothes outside to dry as pollen can become attached to them. 
  • Do not let pets inside as they can bring pollen inside. 
  • smoke can make your symptoms worse, do not smoke or be near smoke.
  • Avoid keeping fresh flowers indoors.

Useful links to sources of information:

You can find up-to-date and detailed information about hay fever by visiting the links below.

https://www.allergyuk.org/information-and-advice/conditions-and-symptoms/11-hay-fever-allergic-rhinitis

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hay-fever/