What is Hay fever?
Hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis, causes cold-like signs and symptoms, such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing and sinus pressure. But unlike a cold, hay fever isn’t caused by a virus. Hay fever is caused by an allergic response to outdoor or indoor allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, or tiny flecks of skin and saliva shed by cats, dogs, and other animals with fur or feathers (pet dander).
Facts about Hay fever
- Hayfever is very common in Ireland and up to 80% of people who have asthma also have this condition.
- The term “hay fever” was first used early in the 19th century to describe a condition believed to be a form of a summer cold. Symptoms coincided with the hay harvest so it was assumed that hay was the underlying cause.
- It was discovered by a Physician called John Bostock (pictured here).
- Before the Industrial Revolution, hay fever was not common at all
- 10-30% of all adults and up to 40% of children have hay fever
Causes of Hay fever
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen, usually when it comes into contact with your mouth, nose, eyes and throat. Pollen is a fine powder from plants.
Hay fever is usually worse between late March and September, especially when it’s warm, humid and windy. This is when the pollen count is at its highest.
Your immune system misinterprets the pollen as dangerous and tries to get rid of it.
Symptoms of Hay fever
Symptoms of hayfever can include:
- sneezing and coughing
- a runny or blocked nose
- itchy, red or watery eyes
- itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
- loss of smell
- pain around your temples and forehead
- feeling tired
Treatment for Hay fever
There’s currently no cure for hay fever and you can’t prevent it. But you can do things to ease your symptoms when the pollen count is high.
To ease your hay fever symptoms:
- put Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen
- wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes
- shower and change your clothes after you’ve been outside to wash the pollen off
- stay indoors whenever possible
- keep windows and doors shut as much as possible
- vacuum often
- dust with a damp cloth
- buy a pollen filter for the air vents in your car
- buy a vacuum cleaner with a special HEPA filter (these can trap pollutants)
To ease your hay fever symptoms, do not:
- cut grass or walk on grass
- spend too much time outside
- keep fresh flowers in the house
- smoke or be around smoke – it makes your symptoms worse
- dry clothes outside – they can catch pollen
- let pets into the house if possible – they can carry pollen indoors
Talk to one of our Pharmacists
Speak to one of our pharmacists if you have hay fever. They can give advice and suggest the best treatments. These include antihistamine drops, tablets or nasal sprays.
These treatments can help with:
- itchy and watery eyes and sneezing
- a blocked nose
When to seek help from a GP
If you are not seeing any improvement from the pharmacist’s treatment, your GP may be able to help.
Visit your GP if:
- your symptoms are getting worse
- your symptoms don’t improve after taking medicines from the pharmacy