What is Hay Fever?
Simply put, Hay Fever happens when there are allergens in the air that causes inflammation in the nose. Also known as allergic rhinitis, it is typically associated with Spring, which is the peak time for airborne grass pollen. Hay Fever symptoms mostly affect your nose, but also the eyes, skin, and roof of the mouth. Most commonly, symptoms include a runny or stuffy nose, but it can also include:
- Red, itchy, watery eyes
- Swelling around the eyes
What is Pollen? (How is it related to Hay Fever?)
Pollen, often yellow in colour, are the small particles that come off the reproductive portion of flowers. Flowers create pollen in order to fertilize other plants in the same species. We commonly notice it in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. When the seasons change, we often see a yellow substance coating your car, clothing and more. Because of how fine the pollen is, it is easily picked up by the wind. This means it easily travels in the air and into ventilation systems, our homes, cars and clothing. For those impacted by Hay Fever, this travelling pollen causes irritating symptoms.
Curious about the finer details regarding pollen? Learn More Here
What is the Difference Between Hay Fever & a Cold?
Similar to pollen and ragweed, Hay Fever is a seasonal allergic reaction. Meaning it is at its peak for only a few months a year, during the spring seasonal change. It’s at its worst during the beginning of April or May, then decreases by the end of July/beginning of August, depending on weather.
If you are unsure if you have a cold, the easiest way to tell is through your mucus. If you are experiencing a common cold, your nasal discharge can be green. Whereas with Hay Fever, your nasal discharge is normally clear, colourless and your nose feels itchy.
Can You Get Hay Fever?
While it normally develops during childhood, you can develop Hay Fever at any age. It’s more common in boys than girls during our teenage years, but both are impacted equally during adulthood. For those with a history of allergies, in particular asthma or eczema, you are more likely to develop Hay Fever.
When trying to determine if you have Hay Fever or allergies, keeping an eye on where and when you experience symptoms is important. Hay fever frequently triggers symptoms when:
- Tree pollens appear in early Spring
- Grass pollen is present, typically in late Spring and Summer
- Ragweed pollen is present in the Fall
- Your indoor allergies get worse in winter
- Pet dander triggers year-round symptoms
However, it is likely a cold, and not an allergy, if your symptoms go away after a week.
What Triggers Hay Fever?
Symptoms are caused when you come in contact with environmental allergens, including:
- Grass, tree and weed pollen
- Dust mites
- Outdoor mold
- Animal hair
10 Best Hay Fever Relief Methods
While there is no cure, there are lots of methods to provide relief from the seasonal symptoms. Here are some of the best Hay Fever relief methods, from top leading allergy experts.
- Corticosteroid Nasal Sprays and Drops: It will be the most effective if you can start a few weeks prior to the symptoms starting. In a post COVID world, it can be helpful for big events such as a holiday or wedding, where a short course can help control your symptoms during that event.
- Nasal Balm or Salve: To help with congestion, rub the salve at the base of your nose. It helps trap pollen before it can enter your body. Most are invisible, and non-greasy, so it won’t be noticeable.
- Keep Pollen Out of Your Living Areas: While it may not seem like a relief method, the best relief is often avoiding pollen and irritants in the first place. This includes closing your windows in your home or workplace, frequently vacuuming to pick up pollutants and dust mites, and using air filters.
- Liquid Honey: Although not the most intuitive, a spoonful of unprocessed honey (such as Manduka Honey) can help desensitize your body to Hay Fever symptoms.
- Carrots, Apricots and More: There are carotenoids in lots of foods. They can be found in foods such as carrots, pumpkin, apricots, spinach, and sweet potato. This powerful antioxidant helps with inflammation reduction (which is one of the key tactics to help reduce Hay Fever symptoms).
- Chamomile Tea: As an antioxidant with an antihistamine effect, it can help relieve inflammation caused by Hay Fever. It also helps prevent environmental irritants, such as pollen, from entering your bloodstream.
- Antihistamine Eye Drops: An over-the-counter solution that helps with itchy eyes, and to some degree, congestion. It does tend to become effective with long-term use. As the allergy season continues, your eyes and nose become increasingly more inflamed with the daily exposure to pollen. It is the inflammation that is responsible for your congestion.
- Hay Fever Tablets: Available as tablets or nasal sprays, antihistamines work by blocking the action of the chemical histamine, which is released by the body during the Hay Fever allergic reaction. Antihistamines can either be taken as a preventative treatment on days when you know there’s going to be a high pollen count, or as needed, when you first notice you’re developing symptoms.
- A Nasal Steroid Spray: It is the best bet because it reduces inflammation. It can also help relieve watery, itchy eyes and help keep away congestion-related headaches. In addition, it can help prevent the nasal inflammation caused by daily exposure to pollen.
- Take Showers: Hay Fever can cause tiredness and puffy eyes. Taking a shower can help remove pollen and environmental irritants that have found their way into your hair and clothing. It can help ensure you get a better night sleep, as the pollen won’t be transferred to your pillow. This also is helpful in avoiding starting your morning with puffy eyes due to Hay Fever.
When to Get Additional Help:
While most people experience Hay Fever during the spring, there are many treatments that can help. If you experience the following, we suggest making a visit to see your doctor:
- If your quality of life is being impacted by your allergy symptoms
- If your Hay Fever doesn’t go away
- If the over-the-counter treatments are not working, or causing unpleasant side effects
- If you have other problems, like asthma, chronic sinus infections, or polyps in your nose
- If your red, itchy, watery eyes, or have swelling around the eyes, contact us today