Hay fever

Hay fever is a condition that affects around 20% of people in the UK

The best way to manage hay fever is to check the pollen forecast and try to avoid exposure to pollen. There are lots of ways to minimise exposure and ease your hay fever symptoms.

What is hay fever?

Hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitisis) an allergy caused by pollen grains released during the pollen season which normally runs from March to November in the UK.

Hay fever symptoms

Common hay fever symptoms include sneezing, runny or blocked nose, itchy eyes, mouth and throat. Less common hayfever symptoms are headaches and hives.

Pollen forecast

To get the latest pollen forecast, view our weather map which provides a UK forecast of the pollen count and provides any hay fever sufferers with an early warning.

Hay fever relief

Although it is very difficult to avoid exposure to pollen there are a number of measures you can take that will help you to minimise exposure and ease the severity of your hay fever symptoms. Following these steps may help provide some relief from your symptoms:

  • Keep windows closed when at home and overnight. Most pollen is released in the early morning and falls to ground level in the evenings when the air cools.
  • When outdoors, wear sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes. Hay fever sufferers can experience itchy eyes when coming into contact with pollen spores. It is recommended that for any outdoor tasks, such as gardening, hay fever sufferers should wear a mask.
  • Avoid drying your clothes outside when pollen counts are high. If you do, shake items before bringing them inside. 
  • Keep car windows closed when driving and fit a pollen filter to reduce the impact of pollen spores.
  • When indoors, there are a number of useful tips to reduce the impact of hay fever symptoms such as: vacuuming regularly, avoid bringing fresh flowers indoors, and be aware that pets can bring pollen in on their fur.
  • Don't allow smoking in the house as this will irritate the lining of your nose, eyes, throat and airways, making your hay fever symptoms worse.
  • After being outside, shower and wash your hair to remove pollen.

Hay fever sufferers can benefit from a wide range of medication which can be prescribed by your GP, or alternatively purchased over the counter from your local pharmacy.
 
Your GP can help you find the most appropriate treatment for you especially if you also have asthma and other allergies. Treatments include antihistamine tablets or nasal sprays, corticosteroid nasal sprays and drops, nasal decongestants, eye drops, immunotherapy, and alternative therapies.

Read more about our pollen forecasts.

Last updated: 20 May 2013

Met Office pollen forecast
Pollen forecasts are available on the Met Office website for the millions of sufferers of hay fever across the UK. Yolanda Clewlow, UK Pollen Network Manager, explains how we produce our forecasts and how it can help sufferers.

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