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Hay Fever Information

Hay FeverHay fever is one of the most common of the allergic diseases and affects roughly one in four people in the UK. Hay fever causes symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes and blocked nose and can make life a misery for many, particularly during Spring, Summer and early Autumn. You can suffer from hay fever at any age and allergic reactions are triggered by a wide range of pollen from wind-pollinated trees, grass and weeds.

FAQ about Hay Fever:

What are the symptoms of hay fever?
What causes the symptoms of hay fever?
How common is hay fever?
Can hay fever be confused with other conditions?
What effect can hay fever have on everyday life?
Is air pollution linked to hay fever?
When does the pollen/hay fever season begin and end?

 

What are the symptoms of hay fever?

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The most common symptoms of hay fever are:

What causes the symptoms of hay fever?

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Hay fever symptoms are caused by protein molecules in pollen grains. The immune system ‘over-reacts’ to these allergens, which it manifests in the form of an allergic reaction. Immune molecules known as Immunoglobulin E are produced and these cause the release of the inflammatory chemical called histamine from mast cells (a type of immune cell). It is histamine that produces the characteristic symptoms of an allergic reaction. A non-allergic person’s immune system will not produce this reaction on exposure to allergens in pollen.

How common is hay fever?

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Hay fever is a relatively new disease, first described in 1819. It took nine years to accumulate sufficient hay fever cases to present a paper on this new condition to a medical journal. Now hay fever is much more common, particularly in the UK, which has more cases than anywhere else in the world (followed closely by Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and Canada). Here are the facts:

  • Is the most common allergic disease
  • 10-25% of adults in the UK have hay fever
  • Affects 10% of children (aged six-seven) and 15% of those (aged 13-14)
  • Is now being seen in children as young as three and four years old

Can hay fever be confused with other conditions?

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A person who appears to be suffering hay fever symptoms may, actually, be suffering from:

Perennial rhinitis: In perennial rhinitis, some other allergen, like house dust mite, is involved (symptoms are present all year round but, for some reason, seem worse in the pollen season). To learn more about rhinitis, visit our Rhinitis Information page.

Sinusitis: This is inflammation of the sinus cavities, which are empty spaces within the skull, behind the nose. Sinusitis may be caused by allergy, but it may also be caused by benign growths in the nose called polyps. Acute sinusitis can also result from bacterial infection.

What effect can hay fever have on everyday life?

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Hay fever is not considered a medically serious allergy, unlike peanut allergy or asthma which can cause potentially fatal attacks. The main impact hay fever has on everyday life is upon the general quality of life. Common effects are:

  • regular headaches
  • trouble sleeping
  • loss of productivity at work and in school
  • adverse effects on sporting activities


Students’ academic performance is affected during exams, given that the exam season usually coincides with the height of the pollen season. A study of nearly 2,000 GCSE candidates in the West Midlands found that those who had hay fever were 40% more likely to drop a grade between their mock exams, held earlier in the year, and the formal exam held in the Summer, when compared to those who did not have hay fever. Normally, dropping grades between mocks and GCSEs is very unusual. Students often find their mock grade a motivating factor and might be expected to improve on it, or at least do no worse.

Is air pollution linked to hay fever?

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There is strong evidence that people living near roads affected by heavy traffic are more likely to become allergic to pollen and have higher than expected rates of hay fever.

When does the hay fever season begin and end?

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If you would like to know more about when the pollen/hay fever seasons begin and end please read our pollen count page.

Related Products:

Hay Fever Relief ProductsAllergy & Asthma PackageMiele C3 HEPA PowerLineBlueair 450E SmokeStop

Hay Fever Information | Hay-Fever Expert Advice & FAQs Articles

Lung cancer may masquerade as hay fever

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Lung Cancer A cough is a symptom that occurs in both hay fever and lung cancer. The former is an annoying condition, while the latter is often life-threatening. So it is concerning to learn that a cough that is thought to be caused by hay fever may sometimes, instead, signify the early stages of lung cancer.

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Why is my hay fever worse when it rains?

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Hay fever worse when it rains If you have seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) then you will be well aware that there is a hay fever season, when you will suffer symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose and blocked nose - all as a result of an allergy to pollen. But it's not just the hay fever season that matters, it is also the weather on the day.

Pollen counts actually tend to be lower on rainy days. Why? Because rain washes pollen out of the air.

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Information About Hay Fever in February

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Hay Fever in February Hay fever in February always heralds the start of the following symptoms:

  • Frequent sneezing
  • Blocked nose
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy eyes and/or nose
  • Red watery eyes

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The Rise of Hay Fever in the UK

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rise of hay fever Hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis) affects hundreds of thousands of people, according to Dr. Adam Fox paediatric allergist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, London. He told an audience (mainly consisting of hay fever sufferers) at The Allergy & Gluten Free Show 2011, held in London recently, that hay fever is a relatively new disease, first described in 1819. It took nine years to accumulate sufficient hay fever cases to present a paper describing the new condition and the hay fever symptoms to a medical journal. Nowadays hay fever is so much more common, particularly in the UK, which has more cases than anywhere else in the world (followed closely by Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and Canada).

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Doctors and Schools Trivialise Hay Fever

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trivialise hay fever Since I wrote the last post on hay fever a new study on hay fever and its effect on students was highlighted at the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology conference in London this week. The study found that students suffering from hay fever are 40% more likely to drop a grade in their exams.

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Exams During Hay Fever Season

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exams during hay fever season My cousin is about to sit her public exams and is suffering terribly from hay fever. Her plight reminded me all too well of the problems of sitting exams in the summer when my allergies and hay-fever were at its worst.

I would sit in the dusty Concert Hall with a box of tissues on my desk, my eyes itching and nose running. The windows would be open to allow air, and with it, pollen and traffic pollution into the hall and for the few allergy sufferers this would exacerbate their problems.

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