Recognize hay fever symptoms and treatment
Hay fever is so common in the UK we are tied with Sweden for the number of hay fever sufferers in the world. In 2018, people in the UK said they suffered more from hay fever than any other condition. And in 2014, 15% of all asthma related deaths saw severe hay fever symptoms as a contributing factor.
Identifying hay fever symptoms and treatment early can help you in the short term and also prepare you for future pollen outbreaks.
The majority of people who suffer from hay fever will experience the following mild hay fever symptoms or severe hay fever symptoms –
- Sneezing and coughing
- A running or blocked hay fever nose
- Itchy, red or watery eyes
- Itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
- Loss of smell
- Pain around the temples and forehead (sinuses)
- Feeling tired
People with asthma can also experience an exacerbation in severe hay fever symptoms related to their breathing.
- A tight feeling in the chest
- Short of breath
- Wheeze and cough
The above symptoms can last for months and will require treatment if any severe hay fever symptoms or mild hay fever symptoms impact quality of life.
There are certain precautions you can take to help prevent and ease further hay fever symptoms such as –
- Carefully applying Vaseline around the eyes and nose. This creates a barrier, trapping the pollen that would otherwise be caught by the nostrils and eyelids.
- Shower and wash clothes that have been worn outside to wash any pollen off.
- Keep windows and doors shut as much as possible.
- Vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth.
There is currently no known cure for hay fever and it cannot be prevented. The above tips should help ease symptoms or reduce them to a mild annoyance.
What causes hay fever?
Pollen is the main culprit in what causes hay fever and the majority of its symptoms. An allergic reaction will occur when the body comes into contact with pollen, particularly in the eyes, nose, throat and mouth.
Mild hay fever symptoms and severe hay fever symptoms can depend entirely on the amount of pollen currently being circulated by plants. The typical pollen season will start at the beginning of March and continue until September. The Met Office provides a helpful website to monitor the current pollen levels and predicts future forecasts. This should allow you to prepare for days where the pollen count is predicted to be high.
On the other hand, some people can get symptoms year round due to allergic reactions to animal dander or dust mites. This condition is known as perennial allergic rhinitis. The same treatment options use for traditional hay fever can also help with perennial allergic rhinitis.
Any other questions about what causes hay fever and how to prevent and treat it can be sought from a qualified pharmacist or doctor.
Expanding on hay fever symptoms
Hay fever symptoms eyes
For the majority of people who suffer from allergic rhinitis, hay fever symptoms eyes is one of the most reported. It can cause various discomforts affecting the eyes, primarily irritation (the feeling of something stuck in the eye), itchiness, watery eyes and redness. People who suffer from more severe hay fever symptoms also report swollen eyelids.
Various solutions exist to help ease the hay fever symptoms eyes, such as those from the Optrex range that can be found on My Pharmacy.
Antihistamines are another treatment option that attacks the cause of the symptoms directly, preventing allergic reactions from occurring. Antihistamine eye drops and oral antihistamines need to be prescribed by a doctor and cannot be bought over the counter.
Hay fever symptoms sore throat
Due to exposure to pollen and other allergens, the congestion caused in the hay fever nose can drain down into the throat and cause irritation. This typically causes a tickling or scratchy pain.
Postnasal drip is common and usually goes unnoticed, but once the body begins to overproduce mucus due to pollen or other allergens, it can accumulate at the back of the throat and cause irritation/pain.
Decongestants and nasal sprays can help alleviate post nasal drip that leads to sore throats.
Hay fever symptoms cough
Another side effect of post nasal drip and the accumulation of mucus, is a cough. The tickling and irritation caused leads to a hay fever cough.
Any exposure during the day time to allergens such as pollen will cause the cough to become more frequent. Doing your best to avoid these allergens will help reduce the frequency of the cough.
Night time can also cause further irritation due to gravity. During the day you’ll most likely be sat up, allowing the mucus to drain down the throat and into the stomach. However, during the night you’re led down. This causes mucus to sit and begin irritating the throat even further.
Hay fever symptoms cough can also be treated using decongestants and nasal sprays, keeping the nose and throat clear of mucus build up.
Hay fever symptoms headache
Headaches caused by hay fever are due to sinus pain and inflammation. They tend to feel as if there is pressure inside the front of the head or behind the eyes.
Again, this is caused by mucus and the way it ultimately causes inflammation. The body reacts to pollen, the membranes located in the sinus cavities begin to increase the volume and thickness of mucus, and the mucus can’t escape due to the narrowing of the passages. Culminating in pain, pressure and aching.
Hay fever symptoms headache can benefit from a decongestant such as Sinutab or a home remedy like a steaming pot of water.
Treatment options for symptoms of hay fever in adults
Antihistamines treat symptoms of hay fever in adults by blocking the body’s ability to produce the chemical histamine. This stops the symptoms of an allergic reaction from appearing.
Available in eye drops, nasal sprays and tablets, antihistamines are effective at treating symptoms like itching, sneezing and watery eyes. They can be used as a preventative or “as required” treatment option. This can mean they can be taken once someone first notices they are developing symptoms or if they have been informed that a particular day will have a high allergen or pollen count.
A few examples of antihistamine treatments My Pharmacy currently has on sale –
Corticosteroid nasal sprays
Corticosteroids are used to treat symptoms of hay fever in adults because they have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Once pollen triggers an allergic reaction in the body, the inside of the nose can become inflamed. Applying a nasal spray can reduce inflammation.
Your doctor may only prescribe a corticosteroid if the main symptom is a blocked nose or if you have persistent hay fever that doesn’t respond well to antihistamines.
Treatment options for hay fever symptoms in children
Many products that can be bought over the counter from supermarkets and pharmacies may not be suitable for the treatment of hay fever symptoms in children.
Antihistamines are often effective at relieving itching, sneezing and watery eyes, but can cause drowsiness in children. If your child has trouble taking tablets, liquid alternatives exist for many of the different antihistamine brands.
Steroid nasal sprays can only be bought from pharmacies and supermarkets for use in adults. You will need a prescription from a doctor before your child can use them.
Below is a list of different treatment options for hay fever symptoms in children, including age requirements.
|Antihistamine||Chlorphenamine tablets||6 years +||Pharmacies only|
|Antihistamine||Chlorphenamine liquid||1 year +||Pharmacies only|
|Antihistamine||Cetirizine tablets||6 years +||Pharmacies & supermarkets|
|Antihistamine||Cetirizine liquid||2 years +||Pharmacies & supermarkets|
|Antihistamine||Loratadine tablets||2 years + if > 30kg||Pharmacies & supermarkets|
|Antihistamine||Loratadine liquid||2 years +||Pharmacies & supermarkets|
|Eye drops||Sodium cromoglicate eye drops 2%||No lower age limit||Pharmacies & supermarkets|
|Steroid nasal spray||Beclometasone nasal spray||18 years +||Not available to buy for children|
|Steroid nasal spray||Fluticasone nasal spray||18 years +||Not available to buy for children|
|Pollen blockers||Vaseline||All ages||Pharmacies & supermarkets|
|Pollen blockers||Haymax||All ages||Pharmacies & supermarkets|