The rise and rise of hayfeverMay 21, 2019If you suffer from hay fever – or seasonal allergic rhinitis – you may have noticed that more and more people are suffering along with you so far this year. You’re not wrong in thinking this.
According to the charity, Allergy UK, in the 1970s only 10% of the population were affected by hay fever. In 2019 around 30% of adults and 40% of children struggle with what has become one of the nation’s top allergies. And if you’re middle-aged and have recently developed hay fever, you’re not alone. The current, substantial year-on-year rise in new adult suffers could see 30 million Britons suffering symptoms by 2030.
At present, 13 million of us here in the UK struggle with hay fever and allergies every year. But what exactly is an allergy and why is it that some people suffer from hay fever and others don’t?
Richard Wells, superintendent pharmacist at Weldricks has over 35 years’ experience dealing with allergies and hay fever. He too suffers from hay fever so is well-versed in the daily misery and irritation it can inflict.
“Every year, we see more and more people presenting with the symptoms of hay fever in our pharmacies across Yorkshire and the Humber,” states Richard. “We’re definitely experts in advising sufferers on how to deal with those symptoms!”
Continues Richard: “But what actually is an allergy and what causes it? An allergy is a defensive mechanism initiated via the immune system to protect a particular area or part of our bodies. Chemical receptors in the body will react to certain things: the inhalation of foreign particles, ingestion of a certain food or the insertion of a bee sting, for example. These trigger a reaction in the blood which is then carried around the body and manifests in an what we term as an allergic reaction.
“The specific way we react to pollen, foods, dust, pet hair and stings varies from person to person and is ultimately down to genetics. So, if both of your parents have hay fever chances are you will too. The fact is we will all react to these items but it’s an individual’s genetic profile that determines their level of allergic reaction.”
Advises Richard” “The best way to tackle hay fever is to first identify exactly which pollen it is you are allergic to. Traditionally we think of wheat crops and grass pollen as the key culprits but we’re beginning to see lots of people with a reaction to tree and weed pollen as well as rapeseed crops.
“An allergy to rape pollen is a relatively new phenomenon. Rapeseed crops are not necessarily native to the UK and their steady rise over the last few years directly correlates to a rise of hay fever sufferers during May and June when the crops flower. Equally, tree pollen signals the start of the hay fever season as early as March or April so people are often experiencing symptoms earlier and might think they have a cold when it’s actually hay fever from tree pollen.”
“Once we’ve identified which pollen is causing the problem, we can help individuals to recognise the symptoms of their particular allergy and advise on the right medicines for them. We can also show people how to use those medicines, such as nasal sprays, most effectively.”
Concludes Richard: “Hay fever and allergies are all about understanding what’s happening to your body and then managing the symptoms in the best possible way. My tips for tackling allergies are to be prepared, recognise symptoms and, if possible, avoid the avoidable triggers such as pet hair or certain foods and antibiotics you know you will react to.
“If you are unlucky enough to have hay fever or an allergic reaction, our Weldricks pharmacy teams are on hand to advise and help you beat the sneeze, cough, itch, scratch or all of the above!”
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