Hay fever symptoms: allergy signs to look out for from itchy eyes to rash and cough - and treatments explained
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As UK temperatures gradually continue to climb, and with outdoor gatherings now permitted under lockdown rules, Brits have been making the most of the warmer weather.
But with sunnier climes comes a higher pollen count, meaning hay fever sufferers could see allergy symptoms start to kick in over the coming weeks and months.
Here’s what you need to know about hay fever season in the UK, and how to treat allergy symptoms.
When does hay fever season start?
Depending on where you live in the UK, hay fever season will start at different times.
In the north, there is a later start and the season is much shorter as there is generally less pollen, according to the Met Office.
Urban areas have a lower pollen count than in the countryside, while inland areas will have a higher count than around coastal parts.
Different times of the year will also bring different types of pollen to the air, with tree pollen occurring first, typically between late March through to mid-May.
Grass pollen follows, usually from mid-May until July, and weed pollen later in the year from the end of June through to September.
Grass pollen tends to peak across England and Wales in the first two weeks of June, but there are two peaks, with the second typically occurring in the first two weeks of July.
However, these peaks may be dependent on how wet, dry, warm or cold it is, with the timing very much dependent on the weather during spring and early summer, with lower temperatures meaning less pollen is produced. A dry spring season also helps to reduce the amount of pollen production.
What are the symptoms of hay fever?
People who suffer with hay fever will usually experience the following symptoms:
- sneezing and coughing
- a runny or blocked nose
- itchy, red or watery eyes
- itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
- loss of smell
- pain around your temples and forehead
- feeling tired
Those who have asthma may also suffer with a tight feeling in their chest, shortness of breath, or may wheeze and cough.
Hay fever symptoms can last for weeks or months, unlike a cold which usually goes away after one to two weeks.
How can hay fever be treated?
While there is currently no cure for hay fever, most people are able to find relief with some simple remedies, and many find that their symptoms improve as they get older.
If you suffer with hay fever, you can try the following treatments to help relieve your symptoms:
- put Vaseline under your nose to trap pollen
- wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes
- shower and change your clothes after being outdoors
- stay indoors when possible
- keep windows and doors shut as much as possible
- vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth
- buy a pollen filter for the air vents in your car and a vacuum cleaner with a special HEPA filter
If possible, you should avoid:
- cutting or walking on grass
- spending too much time outside
- keeping fresh flowers in the house
- smoking or being around smoke, as this can make your symptoms worse
- drying clothes outside, as they can catch pollen
- letting pets into the house, as they can carry pollen indoors