Help & Advice

What is Hay Fever?

Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is caused by an allergy to grass, tree or weed pollen. The immune response to the pollen is seen as inflammation in the mucous membranes of the eyes and nose. Cells on the lining of the nose and eyes release histamine and other chemicals when they come into contact with pollen. This causes inflammation in the nose (rhinitis) and eyes (conjunctivitis).  Occasionally the sinuses and throat can also be affected.

Who gets Hay Fever?

  • 2 in 10 people in UK
  • Usually starts in school-age or teenage years
  • Symptoms return each year
  • Usually improves and disappears in most people as they get older
  • Runs in families
  • More likely if you have asthma or eczema
  • Diagnosed symptomatically

How to avoid Hay Fever? 

Firstly be aware of the pollen count and if it’s high:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible and keep windows and doors shut.
  • Avoid cutting grass, large grassy places, and camping.
  • Shower and wash your hair after being outdoors, especially after going to the countryside.
  • Wear wrap-around sunglasses.
  • Keep car windows closed and consider buying a pollen filter for the air vents in your car. These should be changed at every service.
  • Be aware of changing weather, on humid windy days pollen spreads more easily.

What are the treatments for Hay Fever?

  • Antihistamine nasal sprays work by blocking the action of histamines. Best for mild symptoms and as prophylaxis.
  • Antihistamine tablets or liquids. Newer ones don’t tend to cause drowsiness.
  • Steroid nasal sprays and drops work by reducing the swelling in the nose. Can take several days to reach optimum effect. Best for more severe symptoms and need to be used daily throughout season.
  • Eye drops can be used in addition to the above