Symptoms include a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, the sensation of having mucus at the back of your throat, coughing, tiredness, headaches (yes, hay fever can give you headaches) and a general feeling of being miserable.
True hayfever is seasonal, and only occurs at specific times of the year,’ explains Amena Warner, National Nurse Advisor for Allergy UK. ‘Symptoms usually start at the beginning of April or May, when it peaks, then decreases by the end of July, beginning of August, depending on weather patterns.’
Are you sat there thinking, do I have hay fever, or am I just suffering with a cold? Well, the easiest way to tell the difference between hayfever and a common cold is through your mucus. With hayfever, the mucus is usually clear and colourless and the nose feels itchy. With a common cold, the nasal discharge can be green. You can also get a temperature with a cold.
Now, whilst there’s no definitive cure for hay fever, but we’ve rounded up some of the best hay fever treatments to relieve symptoms, including top tips from leading allergy expert Dr Jean Emberlin, Director of Pollen UK.Warner elaborates, ‘In the absence of a temperature, no green discharge and if its within hayfever season, this is usually indicative of an allergy.’
Hay fever treatment
Available as hayfever tablets or nasal sprays, antihistamines work by blocking the action of the chemical histamine, which is released by the body in 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.
Corticosteroid nasal sprays and drops
These steroid treatments are most effective if you start taking them a couple of weeks before symptoms start. If you have a big event coming up, such as a wedding or holiday, your GP might prescribe a short course of corticosteroids to help control the symptoms during that time.
If your hay fever is causing a blocked nose, nasal decongestants such as Care Decongestant Tablets, £2.09, can be useful as they have an anti-inflammatory effect
Cellulose powder nasal spray
All of the remedies above can have mild side effects, but a natural cellulose powder spray such as Care Allergy Defence, £5.99, has no side effects and is non-drowsy. When sprayed into the nose, it forms a protective gel layer, which acts as a barrier to allergens. It should be used at least three times a day, but can be used as often as needed.
To help treat red, itchy eyes, use drops such as Opticrom Single Dose Eye Drops, £7.99 (pack of 20 x 0.3ml) or Opticrom Hayfever Eye Drops, £4.70 (3ml).
Rub the base of your nose with a nasal balm to help trap pollen before it enters your body. It’s invisible and most are non greasy, so you don’t end up with a shiny rim around your nostrils
Have a spoonful of honey
It’s sounds counter-intuitive, but honey can desensitise your body to other pollens and reduce hay fever symptoms. It also happens to be the most delicious remedy out of all the choices. Try an unprocessed honey, like Manuka, to see the best benefits.
This naturally occurring pigment can be found in foods such as carrots, apricots, pumpkin, sweet potato and spinach and acts as a powerful antioxidant to help reduce inflammation and fortify your immune system.