4 worrying conditions hay fever sufferers are at risk of this summer

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Hay fever can last for weeks or months and is usually worse between late March and September

Hay fever sufferers may notice symptoms get worse in the coming weeks as temperatures heat up and pollen levels rise.

The start of hay fever season differs depending on where you live in the UK, as the north typically has a later start and a shorter season, with less pollen than in the south.

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Urban areas also have lower counts than the countryside, while those who live in coastal areas will generally see less pollen than places inland.

Hay fever sufferers may notice symptoms get worse in the coming weeks (Composite: Mark Hall / Adobe)Hay fever sufferers may notice symptoms get worse in the coming weeks (Composite: Mark Hall / Adobe)
Hay fever sufferers may notice symptoms get worse in the coming weeks (Composite: Mark Hall / Adobe) | Mark Hall / Adobe

Tree pollen occurs first in the UK, with the season usually starting in late March and lasting until mid-May. Grass pollen has two peaks which last from mid-May through to July, while weed pollen comes last and covers the period between late June to September.

How severe these peaks are is heavily influenced by the weather during spring and early summer, but if temperatures are lower than less pollen tends to be produced.

But with temperatures hotting up - and the Met Office predicting the UK’s hottest day of the year so far over the Bank Holiday weekend - hay fever sufferers may notice symptoms start to flare up.

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Unlike a cold, hay fever symptoms can last for weeks or even months, and usually include the following:

  • sneezing and coughing
  • a runny or blocked nose
  • itchy, red or watery eyes
  • itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears

Less common symptoms can also include a loss of smell, pain around your temples and forehead, headache, earache and feeling tired.

But severe symptoms can also develop into other problems as hay fever sufferers can be more susceptible to several other health conditions. This can include the following:

Asthma

Allergies and asthma often go hand in hand. The same substances that trigger hay fever, like pollen, can also cause asthma symptoms to develop, or make symptoms worse.

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The NHS warns that if you suffer from asthma, hay fever can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing and a tightening in your chest.

Sinusitis

Inflammation of the sinuses - known as sinusitis - is another common complication of hay fever, according to the NHS.

Symptoms typically include pain and swelling around your cheeks, eyes or forehead, a blocked nose and a reduced sense of smell. Sufferers may also experience a ‘sinus headache’, a high temperature and toothache in some cases.

Mild sinusitis can be treated by drinking lots of fluids, taking painkillers, such as paracetamol, and avoiding allergic triggers - so staying indoors if pollen levels are high can help. Decongestant nasal sprays or drops can also help to unblock your nose.

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Chronic ear infections

In some cases, hay fever can cause chronic ear infections to develop, although this tends to be more common among children.

The NHS says youngsters can sometimes suffer a middle ear infection

Children may also develop a middle ear infection - called otitis media - due to hay fever.

It is caused by a build-up of fluid behind the eardrum which can result in redness and swelling.

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Symptoms can include earache, a fever, being sick, lack of energy and slight hearing loss if the middle ear becomes filled with fluid.

Anxiety

High pollen levels can also trigger anxiety symptoms in people with recurrent mood disorders, such as bipolar, according to the International Journal of Child Health and Human Development.

Research found that the emotional burden of hay fever can make anxiety worse, which can lead to higher rates of depression and a lower resistance to stress.

Symptoms can include feeling restless or “on edge”, having difficulty concentrating, feeling irritable, a fast or irregular heartbeat, dry mouth, excessive sweating, insomnia, dizziness and shortness of breath.

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