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The Signs and Symptoms of Hay Fever

Posted Monday 02 March 2020 09:30 by in Hay Fever and Allergy Relief by Harman Bhamra

Hay fever or allergic rhinitis is one of the most common allergic conditions in the world. Hay fever symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, and tiredness. More than 10 million people suffer from hay fever in the UK.

It has two types:

  1. Seasonal Hay Fever – occurs on months when individual plants pollinate. For example, if you suffer from hay fever during autumn, you are probably allergic to some weeds and fungus spores. During spring, tree pollens.
  2. Perennial Hay Fever – occurs all year round. Perennial hay fever is most likely due to indoor allergens like dust mites, animal dander (tiny flakes of skin), fur, or feathers. You may find these triggers in beddings, carpets, pillows, and draperies. Moulds can also cause hay fever symptoms. They usually thrive in damp areas like your basement or bathroom.

Common hay fever allergens:

  • Pollen
  • Fungi
  • Mould
  • Pet fur or dander
  • Dust mites
  • Perfume
  • Cigarette smoke

What Causes Hay Fever?

An overreacting immune system causes hay fever. When an allergen (e.g. pollens) enter your body, your immune system treats this as a harmful substance - setting in motion a series of defensive mechanisms to protect you. Levels of histamine and leukotrienes in your blood rise, causing the lining of your sinuses, eyelids, and nasal passages to become inflamed. You also sneeze more than usual.

These hay fever symptoms protect your body by either trapping (like in the case of swelling nasal passages so the allergens can't enter) or expelling (like in the case of sneezing) the allergens.

Hay fever is often inherited. If one or more of your family members suffer from hay fever, there’s a big chance that you’ll get one too.

What are the Symptoms of Hay Fever?

Below are the most common hay fever symptoms that you’ll encounter:

  • Prolonged and violent sneezing
  • Runny nose or blocked nose
  • Itchiness particularly in your nose, throat, and roof of your mouth
  • Itchy and watery eyes
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Ear fullness
  • Postnasal drip that may lead to coughing
  • Anosmia or the loss of your sense of smell
  • Facial pain

Hay fever symptoms vary in severity and duration. It may also depend on weather conditions. In the UK, hay fever is often worse during late March to September. The warm, windy, and humid weather is ideal for pollen propagation.

The presence of irritants in the air often aggravates severe hay fever symptoms. The inflammation in the lining of your nose makes your nose more sensitive to irritants. Below are some of the common irritants that may make your hay fever symptoms worse:

  • Air pollution
  • Humidity changes
  • Wind
  • Strong odours
  • Wood smoke
  • Aerosol sprays
  • Irritating fumes
  • Temperature changes
  • Cigarette smoke

If left unchecked, severe hay fever symptoms can lead to various complications like:

  • Asthma
  • Ear infections (this is more common in children)
  • Sinusitis (persistent inflammation of your sinuses)
  • Allergic conjunctivitis (a complication that results when an allergen irritates the membranes on your eye)

What is the Difference Between a Cold and Hay Fever?

Many people confuse colds and hay fever. Why? Because cold and hay fever symptoms can feel similar. Hay fever treatment is very different from colds; that's why it's essential to know the differences between the two.

Cold Hay Fever
Symptoms Colds cause a runny nose, and the discharge is often thicker and yellowish. Hay fever causes a runny nose, but the discharge is watery and thin.
Duration 3-7 days. Hay fever lasts as long as the allergens that caused it are still there. Hay fever often goes on for several weeks.
Fever Colds often come with a low-grade fever. Hay fever doesn’t cause a fever.
Timing Colds begin one to three days after your exposure to the cold virus. Hay fever symptoms begin immediately after your exposure to an allergen.

Remember, the most significant difference between a cold and hay fever is that a cold will always come with body aches and a fever.

Hay Fever Treatments

You can reduce your hay fever symptoms by decreasing your exposure to allergens. For example, you can clean and air out your room regularly to prevent dust and mould from collecting. Other lifestyle changes that you can do include:

  • Washing your hands after interacting with your pets.
  • Use a dehumidifier in your room to control mould growth.
  • Keeping windows closed, especially when the weather is dry, windy, and humid to keep pollens out.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes when you go outside.

Hay Fever Medications

Nasal Sprays

Nasal sprays like Mometasone and Nasonex from Express Pharmacy can help relieve nasal congestion and reduce postnasal drip. These medications contain corticosteroids which help reduce the inflammation and swelling of the lining of your nose.

Antihistamines

Antihistamines help control your itches and sneezing. Express Pharmacy sells Fexofenadine (generic) and Telfast (branded) which you can get without a prescription. These antihistamines don't make you feel drowsy, so they're safe to use even while at work.

You can buy your hayfever treatments through Express Pharmacy.

When to See a Doctor

Most hay fever cases can be treated at home using over the counter treatments. See your GP if:

  • You have severe hay fever symptoms that don’t go away with regular hay fever treatments.
  • You are suffering side effects from your medication
  • You experience repeated sinusitis or worsening asthma
  • You experience the symptoms in an unusual time (for example during winter) or place. You might need to undergo some tests to confirm other allergens that might be causing your hay fever.

How to Prevent Hay Fever

The best way to prevent hay fever is to steer clear from the allergens that trigger it. Lifestyle changes like cleaning your home, keeping your yard clean, and daily exercise can help reduce your chances of catching hay fever again. Eating healthy can also give your immune system a boost.

When you go outside, wear a hat with a brim to protect your face. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. And always wash your face and hands when you get home or after interacting with your pets. During hay fever season, it’s better to keep your pets outside the house. Bathe them regularly if they come inside often.


Can These Foods Help You Avoid Hay Fever This Summer?

Posted Tuesday 25 June 2019 19:43 by in Hay Fever and Allergy Relief by Tim Deakin

Summer is a time for long days, warm weather, fun and relaxation, but for many of us it’s also a time when hay fever symptoms rear their ugly head.

Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is a condition that occurs due to an allergic reaction to pollen. It affects up to one in five people at some point in their life, and is often at its most common during the spring and summer, when tree and grass pollen are most populous.[1]

Symptoms of hay fever usually include:

Itchy eyes and throat

Sneezing

Blocked or runny nose

Watering, red eyes

Headaches

Blocked sinuses

Shortness of breath

Tiredness[2]

There are many reports of potential cures for hay fever, including certain foods. But how effective are they?

Berries, ginger, citrus and more

A diet rich in antioxidants can help to alleviate symptoms of pollen allergy. In fact, antioxidants like Quercetin and the polyphenols have been shown to reduce sneezing in those allergic to pollen and dust. These antioxidants can be found in common fruits, herbs and vegetables such as red apples, onions, garlic, grapes and berries.[3]

Quercetin works in synergy with another important antioxidant: vitamin C. Found in citrus fruits, broccoli and dark leafy greens, vitamin C is an important anti-allergy component as it strengthens the immune system, calming allergic reactions due to its anti-inflammatory properties.[4]

Speaking of anti-inflammatory properties, spices like ginger and turmeric are among the most effective ingredients, inhibiting the production of the inflammatory compound histamine.[5]

Tried and tested methods for dealing with hay fever

It’s important to remember that, while increasing your intake of these foods may help reduce your symptoms, they don’t offer guaranteed success if used alone.

The NHS provides several key tips for reducing the impact of hay fever during peak times of year. These include:

Putting Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen

Showering and changing your clothes after going outside

Staying indoors whenever possible

Wearing wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes

Vacuuming regularly and dusting with a damp cloth

Keeping windows and doors shut

Investing in a pollen filter for your home air vents[6]

Combining treatments and precautionary methods can give you a greater chance of success when it comes to keeping your hay fever symptoms in check.

Medication can help you enjoy the summer without worry

For many people, antihistamine medication is necessary in order to ensure regular relief from hay fever. Unlike the foods mentioned above, these medications are specifically designed to tackle the impact of hay fever on your health and wellbeing during peak times of year, meaning they’ll probably be more reliable when it comes to alleviating your symptoms this summer.

Both oral medications and steroid nasal sprays can help encourage an anti-inflammatory response to your hay fever, offering significant daily relief.[7] Studies have found medication options such as Fexofenadine to be a clinically effective option for the treatment of hay fever, and one which offers minimal side effects.[8]

You can find safe and effective allergy relief medication like Fexofenadine, Telfast and Nasonex right here at Express Pharmacy. And if you have any questions for our team, call us today on 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] NHS Inform. Hay Fever. 2019

[2] Allergy UK. Hay Fever (Allergic Rhinitis). 2019

[3] Barszcz, N. What to eat to beat hay fever. Healthy Magazine. 2018.

[4] Holford, P. Seven nutrients that work for hay fever. Patrick Holford. 2018

[5] Mashhadi, N.S., Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence. International Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2013.

[6] NHS UK. Hay Fever. 2017

[7] Asthma UK. Hay fever treatments.2019

[8] Simpson, K. Jarvis, B. Fexofenadine: a review of its use in the management of seasonal allergic rhinitis and chronic idiopathic urticaria. Drugs. 2000


The Relationship Between Alcohol and Hay Fever

Posted Tuesday 04 June 2019 23:10 by in Hay Fever and Allergy Relief by Tim Deakin

alcohol and hay fever

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is thought to affect between 10 and 30% of all adults and up to 40% of children.[1]

But studies have suggested that the symptoms of hay fever – such as sneezing, coughing and a runny nose – could be made worse when alcohol is consumed. Let’s take a closer look at this theory.

How does alcohol worsen symptoms?

Alcohol can indeed make hay fever symptoms feel worse, but it’s not the alcohol itself which does this, it’s the substances found within your alcoholic beverage.[2]

Beer, wine and many liquors all contain histamine. This is produced by yeast and bacteria during the fermentation process.[3] The problem with this is that histamine is the very substance we are trying to defend ourselves against in the hay fever cycle.[4] Hence why hay fever medication is often referred to as “antihistamines”.

This link between alcohol and hay fever has been shown time and time again through research. For example, one 2005 study based in Sweden saw scientists examine thousands of participants. They found that those diagnosed with hay fever, asthma or bronchitis were far more likely to experience symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing and ”lower airway symptoms” after having a drink.[5]

Are some drinks worse than others?

Alcoholic drinks like red wine, white wine, cider and beer are more likely to trigger your hay fever symptoms as they contain higher levels of histamines. Meanwhile, clear spirits like gin and vodka are less likely to trigger a reaction from hay fever sufferers as they contain lower histamine levels.[6]

So if you’re a hay fever sufferer, you may want to opt for a gin and tonic rather than a pint this summer.

Again, this has been shown through research. One study of thousands of women in 2008 found that having more than two glasses of wine a day almost doubles the risk of hay fever symptoms, even among participants who didn’t suffer from the condition at the start of the study.[7]

What else contains histamines?

Unfortunately, alcohol isn’t the only substance which can aggravate hay fever symptoms thanks to high levels of histamines. In fact, histamines are common in many food items, including:

  • Pickled or canned foods
  • Smoked meat products
  • Matured cheeses
  • Shellfish
  • Walnuts and cashew nuts
  • Vinegar
  • Chickpeas, soy beans and peanuts
  • Ready meals
  • Some salty snacks
  • Chocolate and other cocoa based products[8]

So if you’re suffering from significant hay fever symptoms, examining your diet may be a good place to start when it comes to treating them.

Treating hay fever this summer

The following measures are recommended for dealing with hay fever during periods of high pollen:

  • Putting Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen
  • Wearing wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes
  • Staying indoors
  • Showering and changing your clothes after going outside
  • Keeping windows and doors shut
  • Hoovering regularly
  • Buying a pollen filter[9]

Antihistamine medication is also strongly advised, as this can help you enjoy your summer more freely without worrying about your symptoms becoming uncomfortable or debilitating.

You can find safe and effective hay fever relief medication at Express Pharmacy. Get in touch with our team today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet Live Chat service.

[1] Allergy UK. Statistics. 2019.

[2] Asthma UK. Asthma and alcohol. 2018.

[3] O’Connor, A. The Claim: Alcohol Worsens Allergies. The New York Times. 2010.

[4] McKenna, P. PhD. speaking to Harvey-Jenner, C. Why drinking alcohol will make your hay fever worse. Cosmopolitan UK. 2018.

[5] Nihlen, U. Greiff, LJ., Nyberg, P., Persson, CG., Andersson, M. Alcohol-induced upper airway symptoms: prevalence and co-morbidity. Respiratory Medicine. 2005.

[6] Asthma UK. Asthma and alcohol. 2018.

[7] Bendtsen, P. et al. Alcohol consumption and the risk of self-reported perennial and season allergic rhinitis in young adult women in a population-based cohort study. Clinical and Experimental Allergy. 2008.

[8] Histamine Intolerance Awareness. The Food List. 2017.

[9] NHS UK. Hay fever. 2017.


Is the Common Cold More Common in Spring?

Posted Tuesday 07 May 2019 16:32 by in Hay Fever and Allergy Relief by Tim Deakin

common cold

As its name suggests, the common cold is one of the most prevalent health conditions around the globe. Almost all UK adults will experience a cold at some point int their lifetime, but luckily, the condition tends to be mild. Usually lasting no more than a week or two, the common cold can generally be treated with rest, sleep and plenty of fluids.[1]

Although we tend to think of a cold as something that strikes in winter, research shows that the condition can easily catch us off guard as the weather gets warmer.

Are colds more common in spring?

A study published in the American Society for Microbiology found that, although the common cold is most dominant in winter, the arrival of spring sees it get a second wind.[2] So though the cold can be seen as a winter condition, it can still strike as the temperature rises.

This is partly because any shift in climate and season can leave us more vulnerable to illness. Our bodies get used to dealing with a certain kind of environment, so when that changes it can force the body into a period of adjustment. This is a view shared by Dr Bradley Chipps, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, who states that changes in barometric pressure, temperature and wind can compromise your immune system’s built-in defences against cold and flu.[3]

It’s also possible that people are more likely to venture outside in spring and interact with others. This is good for our overall health, but potentially risky when it comes to colds. The weather may have warmed up a bit but could still be cool enough to encourage the spread of cold viruses. Factors like these may account for studies that have found spring to be an even more important time for rhinovirus transmission than the early autumn.[4]

Are spring and summer colds worse than their winter counterparts?

The rhinovirus is the most common cause of the cold, responsible for as many as 50% of cold infections.[5] Rhinovirus has been shown to thrive best in colder, drier climates[6] but other causes of cold-like symptoms, such as enteroviruses, are more common in the summer and can lead to more severe symptoms.[7]

A study published in Health Psychology found that spring and summer colds can feel worse than winter ones because they’re unexpected, and patients feel like they’re suffering alone. In other words, feeling like your missing out on fun in the sun can actually make your symptoms feel worse.[8]

In some cases, people may experience cold-like symptoms when they’re actually suffering from common springtime health concerns – typically hay fever. Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is an allergic reaction to pollen, which starts to become more prevalent in the atmosphere during spring. Between 10 and 30% of all adults suffer from hay fever[9], and symptoms can include sneezing, coughing, a blocked nose, itchy eyes, headaches and lethargy, all of which are also common in colds.[10]

So while the common cold may be at its most common in winter, it’s a good idea to take precaution against the condition all year round.

Find safe and effective antihistamine medication here at Express Pharmacy. Click here to see our hay fever treatments for yourself or get in touch with our team today by calling 0208 123 07 03. You can also use our discreet Live Chat system to discuss your health concerns.

[1] NHS UK. Common Cold. 2017

[2] Jacobs, SE., Lamson, DM., George, KS. & Walsh, TJ. Human Rhinovirus. American Society for Microbiology. 2013.

[3] Heid, M. Why are you more likely to get sick when the seasons change? TIME Magazine. 2018.

[4] Monto, AS. The seasonality of rhinovirus infections and its implications for clinical recognition. Clinical Therapeutics. 2002

[5] Annamalay, AA. et al. Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Human Rhinovirus Infection in Healthy Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Western Australian Children. 2013.

[6] Ikäheimo, TM. et al. A Decrease in Temperature and Humidity Precedes Human Rhinovirus Infections in a Cold Climate. 2016.

[7] NIH. Catching a Cold When It’s Warm. 2012

[8] LeRoy, AS., Murdock, KW., Jaremka, LM., Loya, A. Loneliness Predicts Self-Reported Cold Symptoms After a Viral Challeneg. Health Psychology. 2017.

[9] Allergy UK. Allergic Rhinitis (Hay fever). 2013

[10] NHS UK. Hay Fever. 2017


How to Spot the Differences Between Hay Fever and a Cold

Posted Monday 18 March 2019 13:31 by in Hay Fever and Allergy Relief by Johanna Galyen

hay fever medication

As the cold weather turns into springtime, we start to feel the urge to get outside and enjoy the flowers, budding trees, gentle breezes, and sunshine. The excitement of the warmer weather can quickly dampen with the coming of hay fever season. But is it really hay fever? Is the scratchy sore throat a sign of allergies or an infection? Isn’t it still cold and flu season? Should I just stay home from work? Before the panic starts to ensue, let’s stop for a few moments and look at the eight differences between hay fever and the common cold.

1: The common cold is caused by a viral infection

According to Medical News Today, the common cold is most frequently from coronaviruses or rhinoviruses. While there are over 200 subtypes of viruses that can cause these symptoms, it is usually impossible to tell which virus is making a person sick. Thankfully, these viruses are generally short-lived, and you’ll start to feel better pretty soon.

2. Hay Fever is caused by an allergic reaction

pollen countThe body protects itself through the immune system. The immune system works 24:7 to protect you from germs, viruses, and bacteria. For those susceptible to hay fever, the pollen is identified as an invader and many symptoms like allergic rhinitis can be seen. Just know this: your immune system wants it gone!

To get rid of the allergen, the body produces histamine. Histamine is similar to a chemical messenger in that it signals your body to start making more fluids and mucus to trap the invader and flush it away. What does that mean for you? Hay fever can produce watery eyes, fluid in your ears, congestion in your nose, and a draining-like sensation in the back of your throat.

As annoying as these symptoms are, the body is just trying to protect itself from the foreign invaders. To treat these symptoms, your GP may recommend some antihistamines (a medicine that fights against the histamine).

3. An itchy throat is different than a sore throat

When you first notice that dreaded feeling in your throat, stop and evaluate what you are really feeling. There is a difference between a dry, scratchy (itchy) throat and a painful throat. Pain and soreness usually indicate an infection like the common cold. Severe throat pain may mean that you have a bacterial infection like strep throat.

A scratchy, itchy feeling in your throat is typical of allergies. This feeling is caused by the presence of pollen or growing grasses that irritates your nose and mouth.

A word of caution: An itchy throat is also a sign of a dangerous allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis. It may be accompanied by a swelling or a tight closing sensation in the back of your throat. Sometimes, a person’s voice may start sounding – typically higher-pitched and more strained. If you have any of these symptoms, seek medical treatment immediately by calling 999.

4. Check the colour of your mucus

This may sound a little bit gross, but the colour of your mucus is helpful to determine if you have allergies or illness. Clear drainage is typical of allergies whereas shades of yellow and green can indicate an infection. If you are seeing green, then you should be seeing your general practitioner.

Here’s a tip: don’t check the colour of the mucus for the first few hours when you wake up. During the night, the mucus can dry out somewhat, and it naturally turns yellow, greenish, and brown. Wait a few hours, and then see what colour it is.

5. Look at your eyes

The Eyes are the window to your soul – Shakespeare

Shakespeare wasn’t a physician, but he was very accurate when talking about the eyes. How your eyes look also can reflect your health. Symptoms of hay fever that involves the eyes can include:

  • Redness around the eyes
  • Itching of the eyes
  • Clear watering or tearing of the eyes
  • Puffiness around the eye
  • Pain around the sinuses

Sometimes a cold virus can affect the eyes, so it is important to highlight how the similarities and differences. Those who have a cold virus may experience:

  • Redness of the eye (also known as pink-eye)
  • Soreness around the eyes
  • Yellow or green drainage (worse in the mornings)
  • Painful eyes
  • Sinus pressure and pain

Remember, if you have yellow or green drainage coming out of your eyes, this should be handled carefully. The drainage can carry the virus and can be shared with others, so wash your hands frequently!

6. Timing is important

The timing, or the progression of a cold virus, is different than allergies. A cold often comes on slowly over a few days and progressively gets worse. Allergies can attack you at any time with any range of severity. How long that you are ill is also important to note. The common cold typically lasts up to 14 days. Allergies can last for weeks and months.

Here’s a tip: check the pollen counts for the day, and see if you should protect your nose and mouth from the pollen before you go outside.

7. Do you have body aches and a fever?

Aching joints and muscle pains are often the symptoms of the common cold or flu virus. These typically occur at the beginning of the infection. Additionally, if your body temperature goes above 37.6° C, this usually indicates that you have a fever as your body is trying to kill the virus.

Seasonal allergies, like hay fever, do not cause body aches or fever in most people. Some people may experience a slight increase in temperature, but it is really a fever unless your temperature passes 37.6° C or 100.4° F.

8. Is there an Allergic Salute?

Just as a member of the military salutes a higher-ranking official, there is a salute for allergies. The so-called allergic salute refers to the constant wiping of one’s nose. It can create a small red crease on the bridge of the nose, and it is most often seen in children. Adults, who suffer from hay fever, can also have this redness.

Those with the common cold typically have red, puffy noses from constant blowing, but they do not have the crease on their nose or are seen wiping it continually.

Knowing the difference between hay fever and the common cold is important for your health. In some situations, you may need additional support, treatment, and medication. Discover medication for a variety of health concerns – from antihistamines to nasal sprays – here at Express Pharmacy. We can help you gain access to effective treatment for hay fever swiftly and discreetly. Contact us today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our online Live Chat service.