Hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis) affects up to 25% of people in the UK, including 10% of 6-7-year-olds and 15% of 13-14-year-olds
Prevalence can be affected by the following factors:
- Gender: More males than females suffer before adolescence, with more females than males suffering post-adolescence
- Age: Peek prevalence occurs in the third and fourth decades, with some evidence for remission in later adulthood
- Geography: Prevalence has increased significantly in the last four-to-five decades in the UK. Our country and Sweden have the highest prevalence of hay fever in Europe
- Other conditions: More than 40% of people with hay fever have asthma and 80% of people with ashtma have hay fever.
Allergens responsible for hay fever include grass pollens, tree pollens and fungal mould spores. People can be allergic to one type of pollen. Allergic rhinitis on exposure to cats and dogs is also relatively common and sometimes horses, rabbits, pet rats, hamsters and guinea pigs as well.
Types of pollen
Around 95% of hay fever is triggered by grass pollen, which tends to be highest between mid-May and July although the season can extend from April to September.
The first pollen to be released during the hay fever season.
This can also be a trigger for hay fever: highest from the end of June to September.
Hay fever can be managed using a variety of treatments, the most popular of which are antihistamines.
Types of antihistamines
Other examples of treatments include:
When to refer
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Asthma sufferers still having difficulty breathing despite using their inhaler
- If treatment is ineffective or symptoms persist after the end of September
- Very young children
- Painful ear, painful sinuses, purulent conjunctivitis
- Patients for whom hay fever medicines are contraindicated or who are taking interacting drugs