Hay fever affects just short of 10% of the population in North America. You may think that a hay fever suffer is safe outside the high pollen counts of the summer months, however hay fever isn’t known for giving up and can cause problems in both autumn and spring as well.

With hay fever affecting nearly one in ten of us it pays to be aware of the causes, who is susceptible and how best to prevent or combat any and all reactions. We’ve put together this handy yet brief look at a very prevalent allergy so you’ve got the knowledge to best deal with the problem.

What is Hay Fever?

The genius that named this particular affliction managed to choose a name which has no correlation whatsoever to the reaction or its symptoms, hay is not a cause and you’ll never experience a fever. Hay fever is actually just a simple allergic reaction. Whilst all allergies have their own triggers and symptoms, hay fever is thankfully on the mild end of the scale when it comes to the reaction. If you’re a hay fever sufferer then high pollen counts from grass, trees or flowers as well as fungal spores could cause one or all of the below;

  • Blocked and itchy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy throat
  • There are those who will experience more extreme reactions, usually discomfort or pain brought on by blocked sinuses as well as a loss of sleep which when put together are a great recipe for discomfort and irritability.
  • The symptoms, whilst far less severe than other allergic reactions out there, can still cause a lot of irritation and can turn a beautiful sunny day into a very uncomfortable 24 hours.

Who is Susceptible and Why?

We already know that just under 10% of the population suffers from hay fever, but what is it that makes a person susceptible?

There are no hard and fast rules of who will develop hay fever and it is very much a game of luck on whether you or your children will be able to avoid developing symptoms. Although all age groups can develop hay fever symptoms, the highest percentage of sufferers are actually pre-adolescent males. Fortunately, the majority of young male sufferers will outgrow hay fever in their later teenage years.

Whilst there’s no conclusive reason to why hay fever may develop in a person, studies have shown there to be a number of contributing factors, chief among them the potential for contracting the allergy through a hereditary passing down of susceptibility.

On top of this, those who suffer from other allergies are more likely to develop hay fever symptoms, asthma sufferers and other respiratory allergies are especially at risk. Being around second hand smoke in infancy has a large effect on whether your child will develop a number of respiratory issues in later life, hay fever being one of them. Surprisingly studies have also shown that children in higher earning families are more at risk of developing symptoms.

What Can You Do?

As with any illness or reaction prevention is far more preferable to treatment. The only 100% sure fire way to eradicate the chances of hay fever is to keep whoever is afflicted in a 100% controlled environment, something that is as impractical as it is absurd. You can diminish the risk of allergens within your home by ensuring that your ventilation system is effectively filtering the air and by introducing a thorough cleaning schedule, however, to remove allergens in an external environment is nearly impossible.

The chances are that the sufferer will show symptoms after running daily errands, going to work or school or simply sitting in the garden are very high. Once symptoms present themselves there are plenty of anti-allergy (also hay fever specific) medication that you can take. Check with your local doctor to see what is recommended in your specific case and seek further medical advice should the medication prove unsuccessful.

We hope that this brief overview of hay fever has been of use, if you have any question or have anything else to add, leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you.

Image – OakleyOriginals