Hay Fever

What is hay fever?
Hay fever (medically known as 'seasonal allergic rhinitis'), is a very common condition. Although it is not life-threatening, allergic rhinitis is one of the most prevalent health problems in the country, and if not treated effectively, can significantly affect your lifestyle and general feeling of well-being. This condition results from an allergy to inhaled dusts.

While the most common cause is an allergy to grass or tree pollens, identical symptoms may result from inhaling other dusts such as fungal spores, animal hair and scurf, and faeces of house dust mites. Allergic rhinitis occurs when people breathe in an allergen which contacts the lining of the nose, triggering an allergic event.

The blood vessels dilate and the mucous cells in both the nose and the sinuses begin to generate more mucus. As a result the eyes itch and stream, the nose and sinuses become blocked and cause feelings of stuffiness and heaviness in the head. The throat becomes sore and the sufferer will generally feel unwell. Sneezing is common first thing in the morning and the sufferer may sneeze repeatedly between rising and eating breakfast.

The best treatment is to avoid the cause of the allergy. If the cause is a family pet or your friends love of freshly cut flowers you should do your best to stay clear. However there is no way of avoiding exposure to dusts like tree and grass pollens.

Local treatment
Medicines are placed in the nose by means of a spray or puffer, or the eyes by means of drops. A solution of sodium cromoglycate is made up to treat both the eyes and the nose. This prevents the release of histamine.

General treatment
Antihistamines may be be of some help in hay fever, but many cause sleepiness which some people find intolerable.

Preventative measures

Do not have furry animals around, particularly in the house
Minimise the number of fluffy toys around the house
Choose bare floorboards rather than carpet
Airy, dry, sunny rooms are best
Pay special attention to your child's bedding
Don't use woollen under-lays because they encourage dust mites

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