Hay fever is a reaction to tree, grass and weed pollen and can make life pretty miserable if you’re one of the 21 million people in the UK affected. Its medical name is seasonal rhinitis. Year-round allergic rhinitis has similar symptoms and is brought on by other airborne allergens like pet dander and house dust.
Hayfever and allergic rhinitis are brought on when the body makes allergic antibodies in response to certain allergens, like pollen. For hay fever sufferers, grass pollen is the most common allergen (May to July), but tree (February to June) and weed (June to September) pollens can also cause symptoms. For some people, only certain types of pollen cause hay fever symptoms, but if you are unlucky, you may be sensitive to all types of pollen or airborne allergens. In perennial allergic rhinitis the symptoms continue all year round and usually relate to indoor allergens, such as house dust mites, pets, including birds, or moulds. Sometimes, this is known as ‘home fever’ and is often most troublesome in the winter months when we put the heating on which causes dust and other allergens to rise into the air. It’s also the time when moulds are most prevalent in the home, especially if ventilation is poor.