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Hay Fever Information for You

Hay fever is a type of allergic rhinitis caused by pollen or spores. Allergic rhinitis is a condition where an allergen (something that causes an allergic reaction) makes the inside of your nose inflamed (swollen).


Hay fever affects the nose, sinuses (small air-filled cavities behind your cheekbones and forehead), throat and eyes. It causes:

    * sneezing,
    * a runny nose, and
    * itchy eyes.

Hay fever usually occurs in spring and summer, when there is more pollen in the air. Trees, grass and plants release pollen as part of their reproductive process.

What are Antihistamines?

Antihistamines block the action of histamine, a chemical released by the body after it has been exposed to a trigger, such as pollen.

For most people antihistamines reduce the symptoms of their allergic reaction, such as sneezing or itchy, watery eyes.

Older-style sedating antihistamines, such as Piriton, are taken three to four times a day and can make you drowsy.Non-sedating antihistamines, such as loratadine (Clarityn) or cetirizine (Zirtek) are only taken once a day and do not cause drowsiness. Different brands work better for different people.

Hay Fever and Children

Hay fever doesn't usually affect children until they're about seven, but older children and teenagers are more susceptible to the allergy than adults.

It’s important to know if it's hay fever, as it could be a non-pollen allergy such as dust mite or pet fur. Hay fever has clear seasonal symptoms which occur every year at the same time.

The strict diagnosis of hay fever is allergy to grass pollen.

Weather and Hay Fever

Hay fever season can last from March to October and some people only get a break from symptoms in winter.

If your allergy symptoms are due to pollen alone, you will not have symptoms in November, December and January because, in Britain, plants do not release pollen in these months.

If you have symptoms during the winter, you haven’t got hay fever. You may have an allergy to something other than pollen, such as pet fur or house dust mites.

Rain makes a difference to hay fever symptoms because it washes pollen out of the air.

Treating Hay Fever

There are a variety of treatments for hay fever. Finding which works best for you will ensure you have a better quality of life.


Histamine is a chemical released by your body after it's been exposed to a trigger such as pollen. It then produces symptoms of hay fever such as sneezing or itchy, watery eyes.

Antihistamines block the action of histamine in the body.

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