There are a few types of Hay Fever around. Can you explain what they are? Different pollen types etc
Most people know what hayfever is, 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, sneezing to 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 hayfever)
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 hayfever. Most commonly this is caused by pollen from grass, trees and weed. Tree pollen generally affects people most between march to May, grass pollen is usually from May to July. Grass pollen is the most common cause of hayfever.
This is caused by allergens at work including wood dust and latex amongst many others. These people may have symptoms all year around depending on when they are exposed.
This basically means the person has it persistently. Regardless of the
season, they are likely to have symptoms. Causes here include pets and dust mite.
What can sufferers do at different times of day to minimise their symptoms? E.g. take medication before bed to avoid waking up with itchy eyes/throat
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 here (LINK). 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 antihistamines 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.
There is some debate surrounding dietary changes such as low sugar, higher vitamin C intake and other food supplements, however it is not clear if they make a difference.
Please describe some of the lesser well-known symptoms of Hay Fever
Nasal lining inflammation leads to a range of symptoms. These include:
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.
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 lectuer 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.