Everything you need to know about hay fever: From symptoms to treatments

Danielle Fowler
Freelance Writer
From telltale symptoms to top tips on prevention, everything you need to know about hay fever this summer [Photo: Getty]

Nope, it’s not just your imagination. Hay fever is on the rise year-after-year with sufferers more desperate than ever to soften the eye-watering symptoms.

With heatwaves on the horizon and wedding invites coming in thick and fast, how can we beat the telltale runny nose and itchy throat?

Look no further for the ultimate lowdown on hay fever this season from symptoms to look out for to simple remedies to try at home.

What is hay fever?

Hay fever – formally known as allergic rhinitis – is an inflammation in the nose which occurs when the immune system overreacts to allergens found in the air.

Unfortunately, there’s not a cure for hayfever but there are plenty of ways you can help soften the symptoms [Photo: Getty]

According to the Met Office, approximately 10 million people in the UK suffer from hay fever and 95 percent of them are allergic to grass pollen in particular.

Symptoms of hay fever to look out for

According to the NHS website, these are the symptoms to look out for if you think you may be suffering from hay fever:

  • Sneezing and coughing
  • A runny or blocked nose
  • Itchy, red or watery eyes
  • Itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
  • Pain around your temples and forehead
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • A loss of smell
  • Earache

How to ease hay fever symptoms

Though we may not have discovered a cure to combat hay fever, there are ways in which sufferers can ease the symptoms.

From giving up your morning coffee to switching up your diet, these are the simple hacks to try this summer:

Keep on track of the hay fever forecast

In the digital age, it’s now easier than ever to predict high-pollen days so make sure to keep track of when the pollen will be at its highest. Weather apps such as the BBC’s must-have, help users to garner a greater understanding of which dates will boast the most pollen. The Met Office also offers a five-day pollen forecast for those hoping to plan ahead.

Meanwhile, innovative project – #BritainBreathing – is the first nationwide campaign designed to learn more about when symptoms are most likely to occur.

In order to collate data, users are required to log when they experience hay fever symptoms in a bid to gain a better understanding of allergies and what triggers them.

In terms of general need-to-knows, tree pollen kick-starts in late March to mid-May before grass pollen begins to fill the air from mid-May to July. From late June to September, you need to become mindful of weed pollen.

Give up your morning coffee

We hate to break it you but giving up your Starbucks habit may help to ease those pesky hay fever symptoms.

Giving up your daily coffee (or two) could help beat hayfever symptoms [Photo: Getty]

According to Netdoctor, caffeine can trigger histamine release. If you fancy a great alternative, give anti-inflammatory green tea a whirl.

Rub vaseline on your nose

The NHS website advises hayfever sufferers to rub vaseline on their noses in order to prevent pollen from getting into their airwaves.

Wash your hands and face regularly

Pollen can stick to everything from your hair to your face so make sure to take regular showers (especially throughout the summer months).

Regularly washing your hands and face will help to ease hayfever symptoms such as sneezing [Photo: Getty]

It’s also wise to wash your bedsheets on a hot cycle every week to avoid any midnight sneezes.

Switch up your diet

Who knew that food could have such an impact on your respiratory system? According to Netdoctor, an excess of refined sugar can trigger a spike in blood sugar levels which will consequently activate histamine release. For those with a sweet tooth, try snacking on fresh fruit instead.

As if we needed yet another excuse to feed our avocado on toast obsession… [Photo: Getty]

Allergies are also linked to inflammation so try to introduce anti-inflammatory foods into your diet this summer. Blackberries, avocados, salmon and sweet potatoes will all help to give your immune system the boost it needs to combat hay fever.

Ditch the fashion rules

Though we would love to recommend trialling this season’s Matrix-inspired miniature sunnies, the NHS website advises hay fever sufferers to don wraparound sunglasses for maximum protection.

Shut the windows

Whether you’re out and about in the car or hiding from pollen at home, make sure to shut the windows.

Hay fever symptoms are most likely to strike in the early hours of the morning, on an evening or during the night and shutting the windows will prevent pollen from sticking to your interiors.

Avoid hanging your washing up outside

Though it may be tempting to hang your washing outside in the summer months, you run the risk of attracting pollen onto your clothes.

Steer clear from hanging your clothes in the garden this summer [Photo: Getty]

Swap the washing line for a clothes horse and you’ll thank yourself later. It is also advisable that you change into a new outfit if you’ve spent the day outdoors. Any excuse for a shopping spree, eh?

Give up smoking

Apologies in advance but smoking will only irritate the linings of your airways thus increasing your risk of hay fever symptoms.

Head to the countryside

Yep, we were a little baffled by this advice too. However, approximately 40 British cities have exceeded the ‘normal’ pollution level limit so far.

This means that your hay fever symptoms may worsen in major cities such as London.

Stock up on anti-histamine tablets

Nothing quite works like an anti-histamine tablet – Loratadine or Cetirizine – so make sure to take one daily when high levels of pollen are forecast for sure-fire prevention.

For those worried about the drowsy side-effects, give a nasal spray a whirl. For those suffering from hard-to-beat symptoms, make sure to check in with your GP for further advice.


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