Hay fever is a common problem which is the result of an allergic reaction to pollen. Grasses, flowers and trees produce pollen through the spring and summer and this is when most people suffer. Hay fever is sometimes mistaken for a cold mainly because most of the symptoms are identical, although hay fever appears to become worse at two particular times of day – the morning when pollen rises in the air and in the evening when it falls again.
Different plant forms produce their pollen at different times throughout the year. A number of people will be allergic to various types of pollen and so will suffer from March to August. Other people may only be allergic to one particular pollen type and will only experience symptoms during the period in which that type of pollen is being produced.
Pollen is released through the air and is breathed in. It also lands on the skin and in the eyes. These results in the body producing a variety of chemicals in those individuals who are allergic to pollen, the most notable of which is histamine. Histamine irritation and inflammation and results in the following symptoms: runny nose, sneezing, itchy nose, itchy throat, blocked nose, watery eyes and itchy, sore eyes.
Hay fever can be treated in various ways. Antihistamines can be taken to reduce hay fever symptoms by stopping the action of histamine that has been released into the body after the pollen has been breathed in. These are particularly effective for sneezing and runny noses, but less so when the nose is blocked. Histamine is not the only chemical released by the body in response to pollen. Therefore it is unlucky that antihistamines will ease all the symptoms for all people, but most people will find them effective to some degree. Decongestants may be included in combination with antihistamines to help clear a blocked nose.
Sufferers could try wearing dark glasses to help reduce the amount of pollen reaching the eyes. Avoid when possible, being outside early in the morning and in the evening when pollen is moving. When driving keep car windows and vents shut to stop pollen from entering the car. Try to avoid long and freshly cut grass. Make a point of checking pollen count in newspapers, on TV or on the radio.
There is no cure for hay fever, however following these steps and using the simple remedies mentioned above we can certainly help to ease the symptoms. Maybe, just maybe, we can look forward to a hay fever free summer.