There’s nothing like a bright spring day to leave you feeling on top of the world.
But if you’re among the one in five people in the UK battling hay fever or the one in twelve suffering from asthma, the reality might be very different. You’re more likely to spend your days sneezing, your nose streaming, your eyes itchy and watery and feeling altogether rotten. Or you’re wheezing, struggling to breathe and have a tight feeling in your chest.
An estimated 80% of those suffering with asthma also suffer with hay fever, making this season a miserable one indeed. What follows is some essential information about both conditions. This includes the connection between the two, the symptoms and how to treat them effectively.
What are hay fever and asthma?
Hay fever is known medically as seasonal allergic rhinitis and it’s caused by pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds.
Asthma is a long-term respiratory condition. It causes tightness in the chest, wheezing and makes it more difficult to breathe.
Both of these conditions are related and can often occur together.
Can hay fever cause asthma?
As 80% of asthma sufferers across the country will tell you, hay fever can significantly worsen or even trigger asthma attacks. This is because your allergy will cause further inflammation in your airways and make it harder to breathe.
Indeed, if your asthma is triggered by pollen, you’re more likely to need emergency treatment in the hospital as it’s usually harder to control.
What are the symptoms of hay fever and asthma?
The symptoms of both can be similar, including coughing, difficulty breathing and congested airways. This means that one can often be mistaken for the other.
However, each does have certain unique symptoms as follows:
watery and itchy eyes
Asthma usually doesn’t cause these symptoms unless the asthma is triggered by certain allergies. The most common symptoms include:
coughing at night or in the early morning
Given the current coronavirus pandemic, it’s worth mentioning that some of these symptoms are similar to the coronavirus and so could be mistaken for it. However, there is unlikely to be any cause for concern unless you have a high temperature (you feel hot to touch on your chest or back.)
How to treat hay fever and asthma
Here are a few tips on how you can manage your hay fever symptoms if you have asthma.
Understand what type of pollen you are allergic to. Understanding what type of pollen you are sensitive to will make a world of difference to how you feel. Get tested by your GP or buy one of our home allergy testing kits. Also consider keeping a diary so you can understand and identify when you experience most symptoms.
Monitor the pollen count. Keep track of the pollen count and you could reduce your exposure and nip any symptoms in the bud. The UK Met Office has an excellent pollen count forecast that lets you choose your region and find which types of pollen could be a problem.
Reduce your exposure. If the pollen count is high, it’s a good idea to close your windows and stay inside as much as you can, especially if it’s windy outside. If you must go outside, stay away from heavily planted places, and avoid going out in the morning as this is when the pollen count is generally higher. You could also invest in wraparound sunglasses to reduce eye irritation.
Use antihistamines. Products like antihistamines, nasal sprays and eye drops can give you some well-deserved relief from your discomfort. Be aware that some antihistamines can cause drowsiness so always read the labels and speak to your local pharmacist if you have questions.
Carry your reliever inhaler at all times. Hay fever can cause your airways to tighten up more and make it even harder to breathe. Having your medication with you can provide you with the quick relief that you need.
Take your preventer inhaler as prescribed. Reduce your chances of hay fever triggering your asthma symptoms by taking your preventer as prescribed.
If you suffer with both hay fever and asthma, remember that prevention is better than cure. Take your preventative inhaler, take your antihistamine medications, and monitor the pollen count for the day before you decide to go outside.
If you feel like your asthma or hay fever symptoms are out of control, come into your local branch and speak to a pharmacist today. Our website also has hay fever products available you can buy online - click here to shop our store.