For those who struggle with hay fever, it can be something that can affect your performance at school or work, as well as interfering with everyday tasks. But what are the signs of hay fever and can you manage your symptoms more effectively to minimize the impact this condition has on your life? These are the ins and outs of hay fever and how you can discover if you’re a sufferer.
What are the Symptoms?
There are several signs of hay fever that can include:
- Runny nose or feeling congested
- Watery, red, or itchy eyes
- Postnasal drip, or the feeling of mucus running down the back of your throat
- Feeling exhausted or fatigued
- Itchy throat or roof of the mouth
What Causes Hay Fever?
Many people think that hay fever is only caused by pollen in the warmer months, but the symptoms can affect you at any time of year. Tree or grass pollens are a particularly common trigger for hay fever, which is why people associate this condition with spring and summer when these pollens are in the air. But dust mites and dander from pets can also trigger hay fever symptoms, which can worsen in the winter as people are less likely to have their windows and doors open. Similarly, mold spores, both from indoors and outdoors, can cause hay fever.
Can Hay Fever Be Treated?
There is not currently a cure for hay fever, but there are ways to manage your symptoms. You can buy fexofenadine, an antihistamine, or others like it, which can work quickly and effectively to treat the symptoms of seasonal hay fever. Antihistamines tend to be the most popular form of medication for hay fever as they are readily available from pharmacies without a prescription and they are effective at helping you manage the symptoms of hayfever. Your doctor may also suggest nasal sprays to soothe the itching and postnasal drip that can occur with this condition. For serious cases of hay fever, your doctor may prescribe steroids to help you manage your symptoms.
Who is Most Likely to Be Affected?
Hay fever is incredibly common, and it’s estimated that around 10 million people just in England have this condition. Hay fever can strike at any age, but it typically begins in childhood or in teens. Boys are more likely to develop hay fever than girls, but in adults men and women are equally likely to be affected. People who struggle with asthma or eczema may be more likely to develop hay fever, as well as those who have a family history of allergies.
How to Spot the Difference Between Hay Fever and the Common Cold
The signs and symptoms of colds and hay fever can be similar, so it can be difficult to know the difference and work out if you’re suffering from hay fever. A cold may give you a runny nose and you may have watery or thick mucus. A cold will often give you bodily aches and fatigue as well as a low-grade fever. The onset of a cold will typically appear between one and three days after you’ve been exposed to the virus and can last anywhere between three to seven days.
Hay fever, on the other hand, appears immediately after you’ve been exposed to an allergen and it lasts for as long as you’re exposed to those allergens. While you may also have a runny nose or watery discharge with hay fever, there is no fever associated with your symptoms.
The Dos and Don’ts of Hay Fever
There are some ways you can help to minimize the impact hay fever has on your life. A great tip is to put a little bit of Vaseline or a similar balm around your nostrils to help trap pollen and prevent it from irritating your sinuses – likewise, wraparound sunglasses can work well to stop pollen getting in your eyes. It’s also a good idea to look up the pollen count in your local area if you plan to go out so you can know in advance if your symptoms are likely to be worse, and to stay indoors where possible on high pollen count days. Vacuuming regularly can help reduce dust and dander from building up in your home, which can also minimize your symptoms.
It’s best to avoid walking on grass, especially if it’s recently been cut, as this can cause pollen to be kicked up that can trigger your hay fever. It’s also a good idea to avoid keeping fresh flowers in your home. Smoke and perfumes can trigger symptoms in some people, so where possible, you should avoid being around smoke and avoid wearing perfume. Because pollen can cling to your clothes, it’s a good idea to skip drying your clothes outside and to wash or change your clothes when you get back home if you’ve been outside.