What is Hay Fever?
Hay fever occurs when your body has an allergic response to pollen.
Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, plants release tiny pollen grains, which are then used to fertilize other plants. Those pollen grains are transported from plant to plant by insects, by the wind, by birds, and other animals. Grass pollen is by far the most common cause of hay fever in the UK but other types which can cause allergic reactions include tree and weed pollen.
The amount of pollen in the air can affect whether allergy symptoms develop or not. Hot, dry, windy days are more likely to feature airborne pollen, while cool or damp days tend to wash pollen to the ground.
Hay fever occurs when your immune system wrongly identifies a common substance, like pollen, as harmful to your body. In response, immune system cells called mast cells bind to the pollen, signalling release of a chemical called histamine into your bloodstream which causes symptoms, like sneezing, itchy nose, and puffy eyes.
What are the symptoms of hay fever?
Hay fever symptoms may include:
- Runny nose and Nasal Congestion
- Watery, itchy, red eyes
- Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
- Postnasal drip
If you have hay fever, you will notice cold-like symptoms, but unlike a cold, which usually subsides within 2 weeks, hay fever can occur for over 2 weeks when you are in contact with your allergy trigger. Find out more about the differences between allergies and colds.