Perennial Vs Seasonal Hay Fever: What You Didn’t Know About This Summer Allergy
It’s hay fever time again! As the summer months arrive, many of us are stocking up on tissues and tablets and trying to avoid the pollen that lurks outside.
But while hay fever is a common condition that affects thousands of people in the UK, there’s more to it than meets the (itchy, red, and watery) eyes. There are different types of hay fever, it affects people in a variety of ways, and there are various ways to treat it.
Read on to discover what you didn’t know about this summer allergy.
Suffering from hay fever in the workplace? Find out how to deal with allergies while you’re working.
What is hay fever?
Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is a common allergy that affects almost 30% of all adults and 40% of children. It is caused by allergens, such as pollen or dust, entering the body.
The immune system mistakenly identifies these allergens as harmful and produces antibodies in an attempt to fight them off. These antibodies cause the body to release histamine, an anti-inflammatory chemical that causes the symptoms of hay fever.
The typical symptoms of hay fever include:
● Coughing or sneezing
● A blocked or runny nose
● A tickly throat or nose
● Red, itchy or watering eyes
Hay fever affects many of us but in different ways. The symptoms above are just a few of the classic symptoms associated with hay fever.
Perennial vs seasonal: what’s the difference?
Many people experience hay fever during the summer months, typically from late March to September. This is because the pollen count is often at its peak during these months, affecting people more as a result.
However, there is more than one type of hay fever. The two main types are perennial and seasonal. But what’s the difference?
Seasonal hay fever refers to the allergic rhinitis we usually experience during summer. It is caused by a higher pollen count, and generally only occurs between March and September.
Perennial hay fever, however, can happen throughout the year — even in winter. This is because hay fever is a type of allergic rhinitis, which isn’t just caused by pollen but by a variety of allergens. These include:
● Dust mites
● Animal fur or feathers (dander)
● Cigarette smoke
Consequently, perennial hay fever can affect many people at different times of the year.
A few things you didn’t know about hay fever (but should)
Many people associate hay fever with stinging eyes and runny noses. But there are several symptoms of hay fever that might surprise you!
Expect earache alongside your headache
Did you know that sufferers can get earache from hay fever? This occurs when pollen causes the nasal, throat, and ear passages to swell up, which can be uncomfortable and painful.
If you’re suffering from earache caused by hay fever, try filling a bowl with boiling water, covering your head with a towel, and inhale the hot steam from it. This helps ease your blocked ears.
It’s also worth chewing gum, yawning, or holding your nose and softly exhaling until your ears pop. Don’t do this too hard though, as it can damage your ears.
Plan ahead for a sleepless night
Hay fever can also make you feel tired and sluggish.
This happens as a result of the other uncomfortable symptoms of hay fever, such as a blocked nose or headache, preventing you from having a good night’s sleep. Sufferers often struggle to get to sleep due to difficulty breathing or itchy eyes, nose or throat.
While this is uncomfortable, there are things you can do to prevent it. Start by showering before you go to bed to remove any traces of pollen from your body. And keep your windows shut during the day too — this keeps the pollen out of your bedroom to reduce the chances of a night-time attack of hay fever.
Top tip: when you leave the house in the morning, rub some vaseline under your eyes and around your nostrils. This traps the pollen before it can go up your nose, reducing the symptoms of hay fever.
There are different types of antihistamine
Antihistamines are medications designed to counteract the effects of hay fever. But did you know that there are lots of different types of antihistamines available for hay fever sufferers? These include:
● Cetirizine (tablet)
● Loratadine (tablet)
● Fexofenadine (tablet)
● Azelastine (nasal spray)
● Olopatadine (eye drop)
Antihistamines can cause side effects, including drowsiness. However, newer types such as azelastine and olopatadine, are less likely to cause this.
If you suffer particularly badly from hay fever, your doctor may recommend that you take two different types of antihistamine together. However, you should only ever do this if advised from your GP — do not mix antihistamines without proper guidance.
Take advantage of natural remedies too
While antihistamines are great at treating hay fever, there are plenty of natural remedies available that are just as effective.
Your diet also plays an important role in managing hay fever. Eat plenty of leafy greens, grains, and soups. These nourish your immune system and keep you fighting fit. And why not cook these up with some herbs? Cumin, coriander, fennel, and ginger are great for digestion, helping you absorb the nutrients quicker.
Another useful trick for preventing a bout of hay fever is to apply vaseline around your nostrils and under your eyes. This catches pollen before it can enter the system, reducing your risk of an attack.
Of course, no list of natural hay fever remedies would be complete without mentioning honey. Honey is said to be effective because of the bee pollen inside. This helps your body process pollen, desensitising it and reducing hay fever symptoms. Use local honey to increase its efficacy.
Start your meds early to get a fighting start
Many allergic rhinitis sufferers immediately reach for the hay fever tablets as soon as they start experiencing itchy eyes or a blocked nose. But to really get the most from your medication and get a fighting start against hay fever, you should take your tablets before the season starts.
Studies show that starting your antihistamines early helps reduce the symptoms of hay fever when they actually arrive. This is because your body builds up a bank of antihistamine inside you, helping you hit the ground running when summer arrives.
Yu’re more at risk if you suffer from asthma or eczema
Bad luck comes in threes, as the old saying goes, and that’s particularly true for hay fever sufferers. Some people are genetically more likely to develop allergies of all kinds — this is called atopy.
Unfortunately, hay fever, eczema, and asthma are all allergies that fall under the condition of atopy. That means that if you have one, you are more likely to develop one or both of the other conditions too.
Hay fever is an uncomfortable allergy that affects many of us. It’s more than just an attack of the sniffles in summer though — it can affect us all year round in a variety of ways. Thankfully, there are things you can do to combat this. Follow the tips above and get fighting fit against hay fever this summer.
Hay image: Pexels
Bee image: Pixabay