Hay fever is a common allergic condition that affects up to one-in-five people at some point in their life.
Who is at risk?
Hay fever is one of the most common allergic conditions. It is estimated that there are more than 10 million people with hay fever in England. Hay fever usually begins in childhood or during the teenage years, but you can get it at any age. The condition is more common in boys than in girls. In adults, men and women are equally affected. Hay fever is more likely if there is a family history of allergies, particularly asthma or eczema.
Symptoms of hay fever include:
- a runny nose
- itchy eyes
The symptoms of hay fever are caused when a person has an allergic reaction to pollen. There is currently no cure for hay fever but most people are able to relieve symptoms with treatment, at least to a certain extent.
In an ideal world, the most effective way to control hay fever would be to avoid exposure to pollen. However, it’s very difficult to avoid pollen, particularly during the summer months when you want to spend more time outdoors.
Treatment options for hay fever include antihistamines, which can help prevent an allergic reaction from happening and corticosteroids (steroids), which help reduce levels of inflammation and swelling.
Many cases of hay fever can be controlled using over-the-counter medication available from your pharmacist. But if your symptoms are more troublesome it’s worth speaking to your GP as you may require prescription medication.
More information is available from NHS Choices at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hay-fever/Pages/Introduction.aspx