Hay Fever (Rhinitis)

Up to 20% of the population can suffer from hay fever symptoms at any given time. The characteristic itchy eyes, nose and sneezing often indicate an allergy to one of the many different types of pollens, spores and moulds that can be found in the air at any given time throughout the year.


Some of the most common hay fever causing pollens are due to grass, tree and hay. When different types of flowering plants are ready, they release small particles from their seed pods into the air. From natures point of view this serves to spread the flowering plant around and ensure its continued growth. Unfortunately, for those susceptible to hay fever, the airborne particles are easily inhaled and affect the airways such that an allergic response shortly follows.


Moulds tend to release spores into the air and have no particular season. As they have no roots or plant like structure, once spores are released they tend to use the wind to help them find the best possible environment in which to flourish. This can be both inside and outside, and will often be a warm possibly damp place.

Medically termed as ‘allergic rhinitis’ hay fever causes an immune response in the body to the inhaled allergen particles. For many it is more a seasonal irritant, manifesting in spring and summer. For some, however, it can be a yearlong problem depending on the climate. Once the allergen is inhaled, it causes the immune system to jump into action and stimulate the white blood cells to release immunoglobulin E (IgE). Upon the release of the IgE antibody, once it comes into contact with the offending allergen, an additional reaction takes place in which mediating chemicals such as different hormones and other chemicals (i.e. Histamine) are released into the bloodstream and cause the typical hay fever response. There is no one specific risk factor for hay fever. It can be a combination of a number of factors such as family history, environment and level of exposure. Many sufferers can help alleviate symptoms by avoiding any known allergen triggers or by taking any one of a number of hay fever remedies like anti histamines tablets or nasal sprays.

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Guide to Hay Fever