Visual Guide to Hayfever, Causes and Treatments
With roughly 10 million patients in England alone, hay fever is undoubtedly one of the most common allergies in the UK. Indeed, doctors at London’s Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital estimate that roughly 1 in 4 UK residents suffers from a bout of hay fever at some point in their lives. Defined as an allergic reaction to pollen, hay fever typically affects people in the spring or summer and causes symptoms such as runny nose, eye pain, and coughing.
Contacts-wearers need to be especially vigilant during the summer season, especially if they know they have hay fever. Unfortunately, contacts could trap pollen debris, causing an even stronger allergic reaction. Definitely discuss your history with hay fever at your next optometrist appointment to figure out how to survive spring and summer.
In this post, we’ll go into greater detail on what hay fever is and the preventative steps you could take to reduce symptom severity.
What Is Hay Fever?
As mentioned in the intro, hay fever is an allergy triggered by pollen. Although most commonly associated with grass pollen, people with this disorder could also have adverse reactions to tree and/or weed pollen.
Most of the symptoms related to hay fever involve the sinuses, throat, or eyes. Here are just a few common complaints hay fever patients have:
• Itchy eyes
• Red eyes
• Sinus congestion
• Scratchy throat
• Ear pain
• Runny nose
If you truly have hay fever, then you should only notice these symptoms in the spring or summer when outdoors. There’s generally no need to see a GP about hay fever unless you’re experiencing incapacitating symptoms and/or you have an underlying respiratory issue like asthma.
What’s The UK’s Hay Fever Season?
The UK’s hay fever season officially starts in March and ends in September. Usually, tree pollen starts to appear at the end of March and wanes in the middle of May. Grass pollen, however, begins spreading in May and goes all the way through July. Lastly, pollen from weeds starts around June and tapers off in September.
Of course, this is just a general overview of the UK’s hay fever season. In reality, pollen counts can vary greatly depending on weather conditions and what region you live in. For instance, people in rural areas will experience more pollen than those in big cities. Also, there tends to be less pollen (and hence less hay fever symptoms) the more north you travel.
Pollen counts are strongest if weather conditions are consistently dry. So, the rainier the weather, the less chance you have of experiencing excessively high pollen counts.
Because pollen levels can fluctuate wildly from year-to-year, it’s important for hay fever sufferers to keep a close eye on weekly weather reports.
Popular Treatments For Hay Fever
Although doctors have yet to develop a cure for hay fever, there are plenty of medications and at-home remedies that can dramatically reduce symptom severity. Let’s run through some of the major remedies you could use to both treat and prevent this annoying allergy.
Vaseline On The Nose
An easy hack hay fever sufferers often use to prevent pollen from entering their nose is to place a thin layer of petroleum gel (aka Vaseline) around their nostrils before going outside. With this tiny dab of Vaseline on, you can greatly reduce the number of pollen grains that are able to enter your nasal passages.
Wear Additional Eye Protection
On top of the Vaseline tip, another simple strategy for avoiding hay fever symptoms is to wear some type of wraparound eyewear when outside. Ideally, consider wearing a pair of sunglasses that protect your eyes from UV radiation. Not only will these glasses help keep pollen debris from entering your eyes, but they will also reduce the risk of developing an eye disorder related to prolonged UV exposure.
By the way, we have many high-quality UV-blocking sunglasses on sale for anyone who’s interested. Please visit this official webpage to see our full catalogue of professional sunglasses.
After spending a long day outdoors, the best thing you could do is take a long, warm shower to wash away all of the pollen that’s trapped on your body. It’s also a good idea to throw whatever clothes you were wearing in the wash to avoid spreading pollen throughout your home.
Allergists also strongly encourage those with strong hay fever allergies to be careful around pets that spend a long time outdoors. If you own a dog or cat, be sure your pet gets frequent baths during hay fever season.
Consider Investing In Air Filters
There are many hi-tech air filtration systems now on the market specifically marketed to hay fever sufferers. These purifiers are usually effective at removing close to 100%of airborne allergens, which helps keep your living space free from annoying allergens.
If you have the funds available, then research the latest air purifiers and dehumidifiers specifically targeted to pollen sufferers. You might also want to look into car filtration systems to keep your vehicle pollen-free. It is said that Tesla cars can remove virtually 100% of pollen with their advanced filtration system! It is so effective they have named it the ' Bioweapon Defence Mode'!
Medications For Hay Fever
Since hay fever is such a common disorder, there are many effective medications easily available over-the-counter. One class of drugs that’s particularly good at helping hay fever sufferers is antihistamines. Available as pills, nasal sprays, and eye drops, antihistamines help control allergic reactions by reducing the amount of the inflammatory compound histamine in a person’s body.
Sometimes doctors recommend taking antihistamine pills before the height of hay fever season to get the medication in their system.
This strategy often helps patients greatly reduce the severity of their hay fever symptoms once the season is in full swing.
If antihistamines aren’t providing the allergy relief you need, then you might want to ask your GP about stronger steroidal treatments. These prescription-only drugs will greatly help reduce inflammation, but you must use them exactly as your doctor prescribes.
Should You Wear Contacts During Hay Fever?
Unfortunately, pollen can easily attach itself to contact lenses and cause you many (literal) headaches during hay fever season. For this reason, doctors often recommend swapping to regular eyeglasses or wearing some form of eye protection over your contacts during the height of hay fever season.
It’s also a good idea to closely watch the pollen levels on a day-to-day basis. If you see pollen is excessively high (especially over 50 grams per cubic meter), then please leave your contacts at home.
Optometrist often recommend Daily Soft Lenses when hay fever strikes. The reason is the lenses are fresh every day so their is less time for pollen to build up on the lens and cause an allergic reaction.
Stock Up At Contactlenses.co.uk Before Hay Fever Strikes!
Besides our extensive list of lenses, we have many secondary items that could help prevent you from the discomfort associated with hay fever. For instance, we now have a huge catalogue of UV-blocking sunglasses, all-in-one solutions, and highly awarded re-wetting drops. Interested in learning more about our catalogue? Be sure to visit our main webpage or reach out to one of our friendly staff members here.
Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 11 May 2016, Last modified: 10 Feb 2020