It's been driving me crazy. Scratchy throat, nose just pouring and eyes so itchy I just can't bear it!
Yep, we're in the middle of the grass pollen season, which is clearly my problem area - others may be more susceptible to the slightly earlier tree pollen season which begins in late March or the weed pollen one which will hit the UK at the end of June.
So what's the big deal?
For sufferers it can be an extremely uncomfortable time, where you can be debilitated by all of the above plus coughing, sneezing, a blocked nose, watery eyes, and itching in the airways & ears! For those who are afflicted with extreme hay fever you may also find you get headaches, earaches and feelings of fatigue.
It's actually nothing to do with what its name suggests - it's not always caused by hay and it's not a fever.
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to various types of pollen, occurring at different times of the year and affecting as many as 10 million people in the UK. For those who suffer from hay fever, they're in actual fact suffering from an immune reaction where their immune systems interprets pollen as a harmful substance, instead of the perfectly harmless thing it is. The body then releases ‘IgE’ which is an antibody to fight off this perceived threat.
‘IgE’ is ‘Immunoglobulin E’ which stimulates, among other things, the release of a chemical called histamine. Histamine is one of the means by which the body tries to clear out your airways, where pollen often sits. So it’s actually the release of histamine that causes the symptoms of hay fever, and that’s why people take antihistamines.
I'd go so far as to say until you've suffered from hay fever, you'll never really understand how totally debilitating it can be - I can only liken it to having a terrible head cold that just won't go away.
Aside from taking over the counter medication, there are some steps you can take to begin to minimise the effects of hay fever.
Here's the headlines from Back in Shape Clinic near Bromley on little changes that can make a big difference: