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What is Hay Fever and its Symptoms

Updated on May 6, 2016

What is Hay Fever

Hay fever is a reaction of the mucus membranes of the eyes, nose, and airways to allergens. These are most commonly pollens in the summer, but can be other things; including dust, feathers, and animal fur. When this happens, the body releases large numbers of antibodies to fight the allergen, although this is not necessary as the allergen is not a threat like a bacteria is, and in the body of a person who doesn't have hay fever, this reaction does not occur.

Symptoms of hay fever can include sneezing, runny nose, blocked nose, inflammation of the eyes, watering eyes and itching. While these are not serious sounding things they can be very uncomfortable, irritating and cause some degree of disruption to normal everyday routines. Besides, who wants to be having that irritation in the summer, when the weather is finally lovely and warm after the cold of winter?

Grass pollen is the most common cause of hay fever symptoms
Grass pollen is the most common cause of hay fever symptoms

Grass pollen is the most common cause of hay fever symptoms, and usually affects allergy sufferers from May to July when most grass pollens are released. There are also tree pollens, weed pollens and mould spores which are about in the Spring and Autumn. The type of pollen around varies depending on the time of year, as tree pollens, grass pollens, and mould spores are released at different times during the Spring, Summer and Autumn.

A hay fever sufferer can take note of the time of year when they get hay fever symptoms, and the time different pollens are released to help determine which type of pollen they may be allergic to. It is possible to be allergic to more than one of these types of pollen, and an unlucky person may suffer an extended hay fever season if allergic to more than one of these pollens.

Tree and flower pollen can also be an allergen
Tree and flower pollen can also be an allergen

The immune system mistakes these normally harmless particles for harmful bacteria invading the body and in an attempt to rid the body of allergens, The antibodies produce the histamine that causes the symptoms of hay fever and it is released from the cells into the blood, which causes the inflammation, irritation to the eyes, nose redness, running and the sneezing. Histamine usually works quickly, so the hay fever symptoms appear very soon after coming into contact with the allergen. Others work more slowly, causing a blocked or stuffy nose, headache and difficulty sleeping. Strengthening and maintaining the immune system can help with this.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of a few natural remedies that can help reduce hay fever symptoms. It supports the immune system, and can help reduce the release of histamine. It can help the body defend itself against the effects of having histamine released during the time when hay fever symptoms are experienced. Bioflavonoids are what give fruits and vegetables their colours. They work alongside the vitamin C, so if you have both together, it will be even more beneficial.


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    • kartika damon profile image

      kartika damon 6 years ago from Fairfield, Iowa

      I live in Iowa where almost everyone gets hay fever from time to time - some good tips here!

    • Scorpio21 profile image

      Scorpio21 6 years ago

      Thanks for the comment. Do you have hay fever?

    • odie_driver profile image

      odie_driver 6 years ago from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

      I've never quite understood what people meant by hayfever, so thanks for clearing that up. Now I know if I have it or not!