A guide to surviving hay fever

A guide to surviving hay fever

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Pollen season is around the corner, you need quality information and advice on controlling your hay fever symptoms. You've had the ideal meteorological conditions for pollen synthesis and release after a reasonably mild winter and some recent excellent, warm weather.

If you're one of the many millions of people who suffer from hay fever in the UK, the arrival of spring might bring back uncomfortable symptoms. Hayfever gets worse around March to September when the weather is warm, humid, and windy and the pollen count is high.

What exactly is hay fever?

Hay fever is a body allergic reaction to pollen, commonly known as seasonal allergic rhinitis. Hay fever is caused by allergens in the air such as mold, grass, tree, and plant proteins. 

During May and July, trees and plants usually produce a high pollen count. During this season temperatures are more humid, warmer, and windy increasing your hay fever symptoms.

How does hay fever occur?

Naturally, you breathe in tiny particles from the air but your noses filter out the bad particles before they enter your system.

The hair and mucus in the nose help in trapping the pollens before they enter your lungs. For some people, the particles are taken as foreign items in their body systems. The body reacts by releasing antibodies to fight the infection, thus causing the dreaded symptoms of hay fever.

Due to the reaction affected individuals respond by wheezing, sneezing continuously, having a runny nose, and itchy eyes.

What are the symptoms of hay fever?

Teenagers affected with hay fever are 40 percent more likely to drop out of school as a result of their symptoms. The good news is that many people's symptoms improve as they age. After a few years, about half of people say their symptoms have improved. Furthermore, 10-20% of persons have total symptom disappearance. Hay fever symptoms last for months or weeks, some of the hayfever symptoms include:

  • Sneezing 
  • Coughing 
  • Fatigue
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy nose
  • Itchy mouth
  • Itchy throat 
  • Watery itchy eyes
  • Nasal stuffiness
  • The skin under the eyes appears swollen
  • Headache 

People suffering from asthma may also experience symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.

What is the connection between climate change and Hay fever?

The more the temperatures rise the more the plants' growing season lengthens, increasing the amount of pollen produced and released in the air.

According to research from the University of East Anglia, the ragweed plant is one of the major causes of hay fever. The ragweed plant produces millions of grains of pollen, especially during high temperatures season.

The more the ragweed spreads the more it will reach a large number of people by the year 2050. The increase in the number of people suffering from hay fever symptoms will be mostly seen across Northern Europe due to the warmer temperatures that increase the growth of ragweed.

Hay fever triggers.

Some of the hay fever triggers include:

  • Dust mites and cockroach droppings
  • Seasonal or year-round fungi spores
  • Grass pollen. Grass pollen is mostly available in late spring and summer
  • Tree pollen. Tree pollen is commonly available during early spring 
  • Ragweed. Ragweed is common during the fall
  • Dander from pets.
Explore Hay Fever Treatments

How to treat hay fever at home.

There are a few things that you can do or avoid to decrease your hayfever symptoms during a high pollen count.

  • Apply Vaseline around your nostrils. Applying Vaseline traps pollen, preventing it from entering your nose.
  • During high temperatures, stay indoors to prevent contact with the pollen
  • Close all open areas such as windows and doors to prevent pollen from entering your house/office
  • Use a vacuum to dust off your floors and carpets 
  • Wear sunglasses to prevent pollen from entering your eyes
  • Change your clothes immediately after interacting in a pollen environment

what to avoid 

Here are a few things you need to avoid to prevent hay fever triggers.

  • Remove fresh flowers from your house 
  • If possible avoid drying clothes outside to prevent them from catching pollen
  • Avoid pets in the house and also prioritize cleaning them if they carry pollen inside 
  • Avoid cutting grass during high temperatures. If you have to cut grass wear protective clothes and glasses.
  • Avoid smoking and keep away from secondhand smoke 

The differences between hay fever and the common cold

It's easy to confuse hayfever symptoms with that of the common cold. Once you understand the difference, it will be easy for you to treat the right symptoms.

HayfeverCommon cold
Hay fever symptoms include a runny nose with watery discharge and no feverCommon cold symptoms include a runny nose with watery or thick yellow discharge. You may also experience body pain and fever
You will experience hayfever symptoms immediately after you get exposed to allergensYou will experience the common cold 3 days after getting exposed to a cold virus
You will always have hayfever when exposed to allergens Common cold lasts for a maximum of 2 weeks

Hay fever risk factors

You will likely be at risk of getting hay fever if?

  • If you work in environments that expose you to hay fever allergens. The environments may include flower farms 
  • If you are exposed to smoke or strong odors 
  • If you have asthma 
  • If you are suffering from conditions such as eczema and atopic dermatitis

The four stages of hay fever

The stages help you understand how hay fever impacts your body when it comes to living with and treating hay fever symptoms daily.

Allergen Exposure
When an allergen (such as pollen) enters the nose, it sensitizes the mast cells that line the nasal tube, causing hay fever. There may be no symptoms at this early stage.
Response in the early stages
Antibodies on the surface of mast cells react to the allergen, triggering an allergic response that releases chemicals like histamines. When these compounds are exposed to an "invading" allergen, they act on nerves and blood vessels, and it is this self-defense process that causes the symptoms we commonly associate with hay fever.
Irritation and inflammation are caused by the influx of white blood cells into the afflicted area, resulting in congestion.
Late-phase reaction
Inflammation causes additional histamine to be released over the next 6–12 hours, aggravating symptoms such as itchy, runny nose, eye irritation, sneezing, and congestion

What is the most effective treatment for hay fever?

Hay fever, if left untreated, may make the summer months unbearable. On days when the pollen count is expected to be unusually high, it's critical to prepare ahead and take a few easy safeguards. While numerous over-the-counter and prescription hay fever remedies are available, they can be divided into two categories: defense and relief.

The first stage is defense.

In the early stages of hay fever, you may notice a few symptoms. Its at this stage you are recommended to use preventative treatments such as Fexofenadine tablets.

Fexofenadine tablets contains antihistamines.Fexofenadine functions by inhibiting histamines which alleviate hay fever symptoms.

In contrast to tablets, which can take up to an hour to activate, allergen barrier nasal sprays and nasal gels act immediately in the nose and begin working within minutes. These treatments help to keep allergens out of the nasal tube and successfully protect the body's major entry point - the nose.

Relief is the second stage.

The symptoms get more severe the longer you are exposed to the allergen. As a result, in the later phases of hay fever, the aim is to control and minimize the symptoms so that you can return to your normal routine.

Antihistamines can assist with a runny nose or sneezing, but they aren't as good at clearing congestion. However, corticosteroid nasal sprays such as Dymista nasal spray can assist with a variety of symptoms, including nasal irritation and itchy red eyes, as well as a runny nose, swollen sinuses, and sneezing.

Many hay fever sufferers find that combining medicines that address different stages of their symptoms is beneficial.


What is the root cause of hay fever?

The root cause of hay fever is environmental allergens. When your eyes or nose comes into contact with environmental triggers such as dust mites, grasses, molds, and weeds you start experiencing hay fever symptoms.

Is there a deficiency that causes hay fever?

People with deficient Vitamin D are at increased risk of severe hay fever 

Can hay fever weaken my immune system?

Untreated hay fever can weaken your immune system and put you at risk of viruses and germs.

Who is prone to hay fever?

People with asthma, dermatitis, and hay fever are prone to hay fever

Can hay fever damage my lungs?

Hay fever can damage your lungs if you have a combination of allergic reactions and immune system reactions.

How can I get rid of hay fever symptoms naturally?

You can get rid of hay fever symptoms naturally by using chamomile tea that contains anti-inflammatory agents.

Which is the best medicine for hay fever and allergy?

Among the best treatments for hay fever include: Dymista Nasal SprayFexofenadine Tablets - 120mgAvamys Nasal SprayRhinolast, and Nasonex.

Where can I buy hay fever treatments?

You can buy hay fever treatments from Ashcroft Pharmacy our qualified pharmacists will recommend the right treatments.

Which are the alternative treatments for hay fever?

There are over-the-counter drugs that you can use to treat hay fever, an example of such drugs is Prevalin Nasal Spray.

Is hay fever contagious?

Hay fever is not contagious.

Which are the hay fever symptom seasons?

You will experience hay fever symptoms mostly during summer, early fall, and spring.


It's possible to survive hay fever no matter the season. When you understand hay fever triggers, symptoms, and treatments it's easy to cope with hay fever. The mentioned lifestyle changes are ways you can practice daily to avoid struggling with hay fever symptoms in the future.

When hay fever symptoms persist, seek medical advice, remember severe and untreatable hay fever symptoms can cause permanent lung damage.

Reviewed by 

Name Mr Suhail Jamil
Role Superintendent Pharmacist
GPhc Number 2069518

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