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Hay fever is a common allergic condition. It is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen. Pollen is a fine powder released by plants as part of their reproductive cycle. When these tiny particles come into contact with the cells that line your mouth, nose, eyes and throat, they can irritate them and trigger an allergic reaction.
During an allergic reaction the body releases a number of chemicals. These chemicals then cause the symptoms of hay fever, such as watering eyes and a runny nose.
Hay fever is also called seasonal allergic rhinitis because symptoms tend to occur at the same time, or in the same season, each year.
You can have an allergy to:
• Tree pollen, released during spring
• Grass pollen, released at the end of spring and beginning of summer
• Weed pollen, released any time from early spring to late autumn
• Frequent sneezing
• Runny or blocked nose
• Itchy, red or watery eyes (also known as allergic conjunctivitis)
• An itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears.
Less commonly, you may experience:
• Loss of your sense of smell
• Facial pain
Hay fever symptoms vary in severity and your symptoms may be worse some years than others, depending on the weather conditions and the pollen count. Hay fever symptoms are likely to be worse if the pollen count is high. The pollen count is usually given as part of the weather forecast during the spring and summer months. Your symptoms may start at different times of the year, depending on which types of pollen you are allergic to.
While symptoms of hay fever may be mild, they can interfere with your sleep and your daily activities at school or work.
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Download our useful guide, which has information about how to treat your hay fever and the best medicines to use:
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