WHILE hay fever doesn’t usually pose a serious threat to health, the symptoms can be annoying to deal with for the 13 million or so sufferers in the UK.
But what are the main symptoms of hay fever and what is the best way treat it? Here's what you can do.
What are the main hay fever symptoms?
Symptoms can begin to appear within minutes of someone being exposed to an allergen.
- A runny or blocked nose
- Red, itchy or watery eyes
- Wheezing and coughing
- Headaches or earaches
- Itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
- Pain around your temples or forehead
- A red, itchy rash
- Worsening of asthma or eczema symptoms
- Feeling tired
Most reactions are mild but sometimes a severe reaction called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock can occur.
This is a medical emergency and needs urgent treatment.
Can hay fever cause a sore throat?
Sometimes. But if you have a sore throat you may be suffering from a cold or virus.
Hay fever more typically causes an itchy throat and when pollen irritates the lining of your nose it triggers your nasal passages to produce mucus which trickles down your throat.
This is called postnasal drip and can cause a cough.
You should keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water, but avoid hot drinks as this may aggravate the symptoms.
Treatment can include taking antihistamines to prevent an allergic reaction, or corticosteroids (steroids) to help reduce swelling and inflammation.
You can usually get over-the-counter medication from your pharmacist, but if symptoms are persistent, it could be worth speaking to your GP for a prescription.
Around 13 million people in the UK are affected by hay fever
What causes hay fever?
Hay fever is caused by an allergy to pollen, which is a powder released by plants that can cause eyes, sinuses, throat and nose to become irritated and swollen.
You may have an allergy to one or more of the following:
- Tree pollen – released during spring
- Grass pollen – which is typically released during the end of spring and start of summer
- Weed pollen – released late autumn
People who grow up on farms are less likely to suffer allergies in later life, a study has suggested.
If you hay fever symptoms all year round, rather than just in spring and summer, you may have perennial rhinitis caused by indoor allergens, such as house dust mites, moulds and animal fur.
How do you cure a sore throat?
Gargling warm salty water as a natural antiseptic is a great way of helping cure them, but it's not recommended for children.
A tip that works well with kids is eating cool and foods (such as ice cream), and sucking on lollipops or hard sweets – but make sure you don’t give them anything too small as they can present choking risks.
As with all infections, plenty of rest is vital in the road to recovery, and also avoiding going to places that may be smoky.
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