Hayfever and Allergies

The following and more advice can be found on the NHS Choices website here.

Hayfever is a very common condition affecting two in every 10 people in the UK. It is caused by an allergy to airborne substances such as grass or hay pollen, which affects the upper respiratory passages (nose, sinus, throat and eyes).

Hayfever usually occurs during the spring and summer months. Exactly when you get it depends on which pollens you are allergic to. From May to July, grass and flowers are in pollen, making these the most common cause of hayfever at this time. During spring, from March to May, pollens from trees are the most common cause of hayfever. Some people do get hayfever into the autumn months. However, this is rare and is usually caused by weeds such as nettles and docks, late flowering plants and mould spores.

Hayfever symptoms can be similar to a cold, and include a runny nose, watery eyes and repeated sneezing attacks. As with all allergies, the symptoms happen as a result of your immune system (the body’s defence system) overreacting to a normally harmless substance. In this case the substance is pollen. When the body comes into contact with pollen, cells in the lining of your nose, mouth and eyes release a chemical called histamine that triggers the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

You are more likely to get hayfever if there is a history of allergies in your family, particularly asthma or eczema. Hayfever usually begins in the early teens and peaks when you’re in your twenties. Research shows that many people become less sensitive to pollen as they get older and by the time they reach their mid-40s, hayfever may no longer be a problem.

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