Hay fever Dandelion Sky Blue Flowers Nature

Hay fever is a condition that plagues many in the summer months. Streaming eyes, an itchy throat, and constant sneezing are just some of the symptoms which can cause deep discomfort! Sundried speak to Dr Dane Vishnubala who gives some background on the condition and what you can do to relieve your suffering.

There are a few types of hay fever around. Can you explain what they are?

Most people know what hay fever is, but in medicine we also refer to it as allergic rhinitis. It is a common problem affecting over 20% of the UK population. There are a range of symptoms from itchy eyes and sneezing to a runny or congested nose amongst others. As the name suggests, it is related to an allergy and leads to the symptoms discussed above. Allergens are the culprits that cause the allergy and there are lots of them! These allergens, due to an overactive immune system, cause inflammation to the inside lining of the nose which leads to the symptoms. Broadly speaking we can categorise allergic rhinitis into three categories:

  1. Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis.(aka hay fever)
  2. Occupational Rhinitis
  3. Perennial Rhinitis

There are also other ways of typing or categorising allergic rhinitis according to severity however the categories above are most commonly used.

Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis.

This is the one most people talk about when they say hay fever. Most commonly this is caused by pollen from grass, trees, and weeds. Tree pollen generally affects people most between March and May, grass pollen is usually from May to July, and grass pollen is the most common cause of hay fever.

Occupational Rhinitis

This is caused by allergens in the workplace including wood dust and latex amongst many others. These people may have symptoms all year around depending on when they are exposed.

Perennial Rhinitis

This basically means the person has it persistently. Regardless of the season, they are likely to have symptoms. Causes here include pets and dust mites.

What can sufferers do at different times of day to minimise their symptoms?

Hay fever is linked to asthma and eczema and sometimes improving the hay fever can have an effect on the other two, particularly asthma. There are lots of things you can do to minimise hay fever symptoms. Here are my top 7:

  1. Avoid what sets you off. If it is grass- avoid cutting it yourself!
  2. Have a shower and get changed if you have been outside.
  3. Don’t dry your clothes outside if possible.(Pollen sticks to damp clothes)
  4. Keep an eye on pollen counts. Pollen counts are generally higher in the morning and early evening. Avoid being outside for too long at these times.
  5. Keep windows and doors shut to reduce getting pollen inside.
  6. Consider speaking to your GP or chemist. There are antihistamine tablets and steroid nasal sprays you can take to combat the symptoms if it is affecting you considerably.
  7. Consider wearing wrap around sunglasses to protect your eyes. Particularly if you get eye symptoms.

Please describe some of the lesser well-known symptoms of hay fever

Nasal lining inflammation leads to a range of symptoms. These include:

  1. Sneezing
  2. Itchy nose
  3. Nose bleeds
  4. Watery itchy eyes
  5. Blocked Nose
  6. Runny nose both in front and behind (into back of throat).

Usually there are two phases to the symptoms. After being exposed to the allergen, initially within minutes there will be a runnier nose and sneezing which peaks around 15-20min. This is the acute response. The late response is then the following hours after exposure, which usually involved a blocking up of the nose.

About the author:

Dr Dane Vishnubala MBBS PGCME MRCGP FHEA

Dane is a GP at the Haxby Group in York and NHSSport and Exercise Medicine doctor. He has 14 years experience as a qualified level 4 exercise professional. He is a Public Health England GP Clinician, Champion in Physical Activity, and a visiting lecturer in physical activity at a number of universities. Currently, he is also the GB Basketball Senior Men’s Team doctor. Dane founded CORE Fitness Education, a fitness industry education, provider in 2010.

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