Hay Fever… The Count is High

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Hay fever is a common allergic condition that affects up to one in five people at some point in their life.

Symptoms of hay fever include:

  • sneezing
  • a runny nose
  • itchy eyes

The symptoms of hay fever are caused when a person has an allergic reaction to pollen. Pollen contains proteins that can cause the nose, eyes, throat and sinuses (small air-filled cavities behind your cheekbones and forehead) to become swollen, irritated and inflamed.

When you have an allergic reaction, your body overreacts to something it perceives as a threat. In hay fever, the allergen (the substance you are allergic to) is pollen. Your immune system (the body’s natural defense system) starts to respond as if it were being attacked by a virus Your immune system will release a number of chemicals designed to prevent the spread of what it wrongly perceives as an infection.

The amount of sunshine, rain or wind affects how much pollen plants release and how much the pollen is spread around. On humid and windy days, pollen spreads easily. On rainy days, pollen may be cleared from the air, causing pollen levels to fall.

It’s unclear what causes the immune system to do this but there are several risk factors that can increase your risk of hay fever.

They include:

  • having asthma or another allergic condition such as eczema (an allergic skin condition)
  • having a family history of hay fever

There is currently no cure for hay fever but most people are able to relieve symptoms with treatment available from their pharmacy such as antihistamine tablets, eye drops or nose sprays

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