Many people believe that if they didn’t experience hay fever as a child, they won’t have to worry about it later in life. Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily true.

While it is most common to develop hay fever during childhood, many adults develop it much later in life, even when they’ve never experienced it before. But, why is this the case? Why do some adults randomly develop hay fever? We’re here to reveal all.

What are the symptoms of hay fever?

The symptoms of hay fever include:

  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Scratchy throat
  • Sneezing or coughing

It can be difficult to differentiate between a cold and hay fever, but there are certain triggers that can lead to these symptoms coming on more strongly, such as being around pollen, grass, pollution or pet dander.

Sometimes, people who have hay fever can also experience secondary symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Low mood
  • Irritability

This is because the condition can make you feel under the weather for such a long period of time, especially if the pollen count is high.

What causes hay fever in adults?

Hay fever is your immune system’s way of protecting itself when it identifies a harmless airborne substance as a potential threat. The immune system produces antibodies to protect itself against the substance. When you next come into contact with it, the antibodies signal to the body to release histamines, leading to the symptoms of hay fever.

The likelihood of developing allergies is written in our genetic makeup and around a third of adults are susceptible to developing allergies. Many of these people never go on to experience any symptoms, but for a number of adults, hay fever can develop later in life as a result. The reason is that most people only carry antibodies to bacteria and viruses, but some also carry antibodies to triggers like pollen.

How will I know if I’m going to develop hay fever?

As the years go by, hay fever is actually becoming more common. This is linked with the rise in pollution, pollen and climate change, and our worsening diets. Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing if you’re predisposed to develop hay fever.

How to prevent hay fever

While hay fever isn’t always preventable, there are many things that you can do to alleviate symptoms.

Stay Inside: If you know what triggers your hay fever, it’s a good idea to try to minimise your contact with the allergen. For example, if pollen is a trigger for your symptoms, you should check pollen counts before you go outside during the spring and summer and try to stay indoors where possible on high pollen count days.

Close Windows: It’s also a good idea to keep windows closed. This will prevent pollen and allergens coming into your home.

Sunglasses: Wearing sunglasses can also help to prevent pollen and dust from getting into your eyes and irritating them.

Vacuum Often: If you have pets, try to vacuum regularly to pick up hair and pet dander from the floors and furniture. You could also invest in an air purifier for your home to clean the air further.

Medication: You can also treat hay fever with over the counter tablets or sprays. Hay fever tablets can help to suppress your symptoms, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors without any obstacles.

When to speak to your doctor

Hay fever symptoms are usually mild. If you follow the right precautions and remember to take hay fever relief, a trip to the doctor shouldn’t be needed. However, if symptoms become unbearable or show signs of a more serious problem, it’s wise to seek medical assistance.