Hay fever FAQs

3 mins

Feel like nature’s hating on you? You’re not alone. According to research from Allergy UK, nearly half of the British population report having hay fever symptoms.

But what exactly is hay fever? And what are the common hay fever causes?

Read on for our lowdown on this widespread seasonal allergy.

What is hay fever?

Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is an allergic reaction to pollen. You’re most likely to suffer in spring and summer as the pollen count starts to rise. Hay fever symptoms can include sneezing, a stuffy nose, watery eyes and an itchy throat. Snot good.

What causes hay fever?

Hay fever is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen, a fine powder that comes from plants and heads straight for your mouth, nose, eyes and throat.

Can you develop hay fever?

Hay fever usually starts when you’re a child or teenager. But you can develop hay fever later in life, even if you’ve steered clear before. This could be, say, when you move to a new area with different levels of pollen types.

Is hay fever genetic?

Hay fever isn’t choosy: it can hit anyone. But it can also be genetic. You’re more likely to develop hay fever if you have a family history of allergies, or if your parents or siblings also suffer from it.

Is hay fever common in the UK?

In a word, yes. A study from Allergy UK reports that 49% of the UK have had hay fever symptoms, making it one of the most common allergies.

Over a third of allergy sufferers have changed their lifestyle to help manage their symptoms

How do you get hay fever?

You can’t catch it – hay fever isn’t infectious! But you can develop it at any age, particularly if you have a family history of allergies such as asthma or eczema.

Why is my hay fever so bad?

Suffering? We feel for you. You’re likely to get more severe hay fever symptoms when the weather’s warm and the pollen count is at its highest, usually between March and September. Scientists believe pollen season is lasting longer due to climate change.

Does alcohol affect hay fever?

It is not that alcohol can worsen hay fever (allergic rhinitis), but rather can cause hay fever or allergic-like symptoms regardless of whether or not they suffer from chronic rhinitis. These symptoms were more prevalent in people with allergic rhinitis and asthma. The underlying mechanisms of these symptoms are multifactorial and remain to be clarified.

Why do some people have hay fever?

Family got a history of allergies? You’re more likely to develop hay fever. Do you have asthma or eczema? Sorry to say it, but hay fever could be coming for you. Where you live can make a difference, too. If you do suffer from hay fever, some years may be easier on your symptoms than others. It all depends on the amount of pollen floating around.

How many people have an allergy?

According to Allergy UK, 44% of adults in the UK suffer from an allergy. It’s predicted that one in four of us in the UK will be affected at some point, with nearly a third of people changing their lifestyle to manage their symptoms.

46% of people struggle with concentration and 35% feel that hay fever lowers their productivity in the workplace

Can children get hay fever?

A study by Allergy UK found that hay fever affects 10-15% of children in the UK. It is also common for children with asthma to develop hay fever symptoms. It’s thought that hay fever may get missed in babies and infants as symptoms are similar to viruses.

How long does hay fever last?

Most people suffer with symptoms for as long as they are exposed to allergens, typically from three to six days every single week during the hay fever season.

What are the main symptoms of hay fever?

The main symptoms of hay fever include sneezing and coughing, a snotty, itchy or blocked nose, itchy red or watery eyes, shortness of breath, tiredness, itchy throat and headaches. Hay fever, we hate you.

Are allergies common?

Here in the UK, 44% of us are living with allergies. Alongside hay fever, other common things we’re allergic to include pets, food types, insect bites, dust and medicines.

Hay fever is common but don’t let it call the shots. A great place to start is checking the pollen levels where you are with Your Pollen Pal.You can plan that jog, lunch date or whatever without pollen getting an invite. It’s also worth speaking to your pharmacist or doctor so you can chat about the best treatment for you.


The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment

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