Spring has sprung. Hay fever time.

Hay fever is an unwelcome guest for many of us. But for those who suffer from asthma it can trigger symptoms or even an attack. 80% of people who have asthma also have a pollen allergy.

Pesky Pollen.
Produced by certain types of trees, grasses and weeds, transported by the wind and insects, pollen is a tiny powder like substance which can make a big impact to those who are allergic to it.

One in Five.
This is how many people in the UK suffer from hay fever. Most commonly affected are teenagers and young adults. But unfortunately it can develop at any age.

What to Expect.
Symptoms can vary but the most common ones are:

  • Blocked nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose
  • Watery eyes

But there can be other symptoms which include:

  • Headaches
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Itchy eyes
  • Disrupted sleep | tiredness
  • Earache
  • Pollen v Asthma.

Why does pollen aggravate asthma?

It’s down to the proteins in the pollen. Normally they are harmless but for hay fever sufferers they cause histamine to be realised in the body. This chemical is what causes the symptoms mentioned above and can trigger asthma symptoms. A blocked nose, sore throat and inflamed sinuses can change the way you breathe – for example a blocked nose will make you breathe in through your mouth, this air is colder and drier and for those with sensitive airways this can trigger wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and tightness in chest.

Be Aware. Is pollen a trigger for you?
To find out try keeping a diary – when and where you were when your symptoms flared.

Tree pollens tend to affect people from March to May each year, but can cause symptoms from as early as January. About 20 per cent of people with hay fever are allergic to birch tree pollen but oak and plane trees also affect lots of people.

Grass pollens are the most common cause of hay fever and usually affect people in May, June and July.

Weed pollens (such as nettles and docks) usually release pollen from early spring to early autumn.

Keep an eye on the daily pollen count. Are your symptoms worse when it is high?
A skin prick test by the GP can help you find out if you have an allergy to pollen and which type.

Remember it is always best to speak to your GP or asthma nurse to discuss any concerns you have about your asthma or hay fever.