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60 Second Factfile: Hay Fever

Symptoms

Sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and throat; sometimes headaches, earache and fatigue.

Living with hay fever

Hay fever can be very mild or very severe, depending on a number of different factors, such as pollen count, severity of allergy and the time of year. Hay fever is a very common condition that affects around 20 per cent of the population at some point in their life - many find that the condition improves as they get older, while some don't develop the allergy until later in life.

Treatment

There's no direct cure for hayfever, but the symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter drugs. Antihistamines and corticosteroids are an effective way to prevent allergy flare-ups, and a GP can recommend immunotherapy (where you are exposed to small amounts of pollen to build up an immunity) if the symptoms are severe.

Mythbuster

Contrary to popular belief, it's not flowering plants that cause hay fever flare-ups - it's trees and grasses. The pollen in flowers is usually too sticky to be spread by the wind. This makes it very hard to avoid pollen!

Sources

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hay-fever/Pages/Introduction.aspx

http://www.hayfeverexpert.co.uk/hayfevermyths.html

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