We answer your most googled questions on hay fever

Hay fever sending your summer plans out the window?

It isn’t dangerous, but it can be uncomfortable to deal with. With 1 in 5 of us experiencing hay fever, you might have done some frustrated Googling yourself.1

Don’t worry! We've got the answers to your questions...

1. What are the first signs of hay fever?

You’re most likely to notice hay fever when you start sneezing or your eyes water. But there are many more symptoms:2,3

  • A runny or blocked nose
  • Coughing
  • Itchy ears, nose, mouth, and throat
  • Blocked sinuses and loss of smell
  • Headache
  • Earache
  • Feeling tired

2. Is hay fever worse at night?

A Polish study spanning 6 years found that different plants release different amounts of pollen at different times of day.4

Most types of plants released more pollen in the daytime, but ragweed released up to 60% of its pollen at night.5

The study also suggested that pollen-laden air descends at night as the weather gets cooler, increasing the pollen count at ground level.6

So, it mostly depends what you’re allergic to, and what kinds of plants are in your area. Pollen from plants further away will take longer to reach you, so you won’t feel their effects for a bit longer.

But, no matter your type of allergy, you might naturally feel a little more congested when you’re lying down in bed.7

3. How long does hay fever last?

Wondering if hay fever can last all summer?

Unfortunately so: unlike a cold, hay fever symptoms can last for weeks or months if the pollen count stays high.8

4. Is it hay fever or a summer cold?

It can be tricky to distinguish the two at first. But itchy eyes, nose, and mouth mean it’s more likely hay fever.9

On the other hand, a sore throat or a high temperature could mean it’s a cold instead.10

A cold tends to last a week or two, while hay fever can persist for weeks or even months.11

5. Can you develop hay fever when pregnant?

We can develop allergies seemingly out of the blue. Most often, these allergies were always there, but only become noticeable when something new triggers them. 12

So, it’s not surprising that pregnancy could also play a part: 13

  • About a third of people find their symptoms worsen during pregnancy. 
  • About a third of people find their symptoms stay the same... 
  • ...and another third see improvements in their allergy symptoms while pregnant.

That said, it could also be “pregnancy rhinitis”, a condition that makes you feel stuffy and congested. It’s unrelated to allergies or viruses – it happens simply because you’re pregnant.14 Pregnancy rhinitis should go away soon after giving birth.15It’s important to note that some hay fever medications aren’t suitable if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, so speak to your GP for advice first.16Similarly, seek medical advice if you’re unsure about your symptoms or why they’re happening.

6. Can you be allergic to different types of pollen?

Yes! There are about 30 different types. You can be allergic to many of them, or just one.17

You might be able to identify your pollen allergy by the time of year it’s at its worst.

Most people with seasonal allergies are allergic to grass pollen, which is common during late spring and early summer.18

7. How can you prevent hay fever naturally?

Unfortunately, you can’t prevent or cure hay fever.19 But you can reduce your exposure to pollen and use allergy care products to help with symptoms.

Find out how to manage hay fever below...

8. How to manage hay fever?

If you’re struggling with hay fever:20,21

  • Don’t dry your clothes outside, as pollen can stick to them 
  • Shower and change clothes after being outside 
  • Stay indoors where possible 
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses while outside to stop pollen from getting into your eyes
  • Keep windows and doors closed where possible
  • Use an allergy balm around your nostrils to help keep pollen out

The final say

Unfortunately, you can’t get rid of hay fever completely. But, with these tips, we hope you’re a little more clued up and a little less stuffed up.

By identifying your triggers (like pollen type, or the times of day and year you struggle most) it's easier to manage your symptoms.

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