Hayfever, also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, is a very common condition that affects 20% of people in the UK. It is caused by an allergic reaction to airborne substances such as grass or hay pollen that affects the nose, sinuses, throat and eyes.
Hayfever usually occurs during the spring and summer months. Exactly when you get it depends on which substances you are allergic to.
You are more likely to get hayfever if there is a history of allergies in your family, particularly asthma or eczema. Hayfever usually begins in the early teens and peaks when you’re in your twenties. Research shows that many people become less sensitive as they get older and by the time they reach their mid-40s, hayfever may no longer be a problem.
As with all allergies, the symptoms happen as a result of your immune system (the body’s defence system) overreacting to a normally harmless substance. When the body comes into contact with inhaled allergen, cells in the lining of your nose, mouth and eyes release a chemical called histamine that triggers the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Hayfever symptoms can be similar to a cold and include:
- A blocked or runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy eyes, nose and throat
- Repeated sneezing attacks.
- Not being able to concentrate
- Sleeping badly
- Feeling generally unwell
Allergen identification – Each person with hay fever will show a slightly different pattern of symptoms, depending on the particular allergen they react to. Seasonal hayfever symptoms are linked to the release of different kinds of pollen or moulds, exactly when you get it depends on which pollens you are allergic to. From May to July, grass and flowers are in pollen, making these the most common cause of hayfever at this time. During spring, from March to May, pollens from trees are the most common cause of hayfever. Some people also get hayfever into the autumn months and this is usually caused by weeds such as nettles and docks, late flowering plants and mould spores. It is also possible to be allergic to other allergens, such as house dust mites, pet hair and moulds. This results in year round symptoms. Identifying your specific triggers can make it much easier to make beneficial lifestyle adjustments. An Inhalant Allergen Test measures your reaction to possible airborne triggers and is a great way to identify problem substances. Once any allergens are identified Smart Nutrition can advise you on practical ways to reduce your exposure and improve your symptoms.
Nutritional therapy – There are a number of foods and supplements that can help to dampen down the allergic responses that cause hayfever symptoms. Including these regularly within the diet can reduce seasonal flare ups and make symptoms more bearable.