Seasonal and Perennial Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever)

Hay fever is caused by the body producing an inappropriate immune response to pollen, producing antibodies which try to ‘fight’ the pollen and result in unpleasant side effects such as a runny nose, dry and itchy eyes, sneezing and coughing, and skin irritation. It is prevalent during the summer months and in dry weather, where there is more pollen in the air. Often, tree pollen is the culprit as it will fall from higher in the air, but pollen from flowers and crops can also have the same effect. The higher the pollen count, the more severe the symptoms can be. Hay fever can also make the symptoms of asthma worse and vice versa.

Symptoms of hay fever

Most people will be able to recognise the most common symptoms of hay fever. Feeling tired and lethargic, coupled with irritated nose and throat symptoms, dry and itchy eyes and itchy skin are the most common, but other symptoms include feeling sick, finding it hard to breathe normally, loss of sense of smell, pain in the face caused by blocked sinuses, headaches and earache.

Treatments for hay fever

Because hay fever is so common, there are many treatment options available. Many people find that taking antihistamine quickly relieves their symptoms. Taking it preventatively every day also means that you are protected even before you go outside, so symptoms are lessened. You can also administer nose and throat sprays, which may include steroids or antihistamines. These help to relieve localised symptoms such as itchy eyes, a runny nose and sneezing or coughing. If your symptoms are more severe, you can take steroid tablets, though these are not recommended as a long-term solution. Eye drops can be used if you are suffering with sore or itchy eyes. Although most cases of hay fever can be treated with over-the-counter medication, if you feel that you have particularly severe symptoms or the medications you have tried aren’t working sufficiently then it is best to discuss further treatment options with your doctor.

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