WHAT IS HAY FEVER?
Hay fever is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen which is a fine powder-like substance that is released by flowers during the reproduction process. Proteins within the pollen irritate the nose, eyes and throat, causing them to become swollen and inflamed. Hay fever is the common name for allergic rhinitis, which translates to an allergy that affects the nose. While the main cause is hay fever, other causes that can trigger this condition include dust mites, moulds and animal hair.
Hay fever is commonly associated with spring when airborne grass pollens are at their peak. This is known as seasonal allergic rhinitis or spring hay fever. Symptoms can occur all year round; this is known as perennial allergic rhinitis. Perennial allergic rhinitis is usually caused by a reaction to allergens around the home, such as dust mites, animal hair, mould or occupational allergens. It is believed that emissions of nitrogen dioxide and ozone from vehicle exhausts have been increasing the sensitivity to airborne allergens.
The tiny hairs and mucus that line the nasal passages act as a filter, trapping dust, pollen and other microscopic particles. Any allergens trapped in the nose can trigger an immune system response as the body treats this harmless substance as if it is dangerous and launches an attack. The nasal passages become inflamed and produce more mucus.
The symptoms of rhinitis are caused by an interaction between the allergen and immunoglobulin E (IgE) on the surface of sensitised mucosal mast cells. The cells release mediators such as histamine and leukotrienes that cause itching, sneezing, nasal discharge, nasal congestion or symptoms that affect the eyes.
Allergens are also recognised and processed by mucosal dendritic cells such as Langerhans’ cells or macrophages, which stimulate T lymphocytes to release interleukins, which promote the production of IgE and eosinophilia. These compounds act to produce ongoing rhinitis, nasal hyperactivity, impaired sense of smell and symptoms of blockage.
Symptoms of hay fever include:
Runny or stuffy nose
Itchy ears, nose and throat
Red, itchy and watery eyes
During the spring months, trees are responsible for allergies, with Birch being one of the most common offenders, where many people with hay fever react to its pollen. Other allergenic trees include cedar, alder, horse chestnut, willow and poplar.
Hay fever derives its commonly known name from the hay-cutting season, which is traditionally in the summer months. However, the real culprit of summer allergies is grasses and weeds.
Autumn is the season of weeds, invasive and impossible to control plants. Their pollen is a very common allergen, and the symptoms of weed allergies can be severe.
Allergies triggers from outdoor allergens lie dormant over the winter months, although with the UK experiencing warmer winters, these triggers may still be present. Those prone to outdoor allergies may also be prone to allergens within the home, such as mould, dust mites or animal hair. Indoor allergens are easier to control than external allergens, and usually, the home can be cleaned away from these risk factors.
Risk factors for developing hay fever include:
Other allergies or asthma
Anyone with eczema
Hereditary factors, such as a family member having allergies
Living or working within an environment that exposes you to an allergen
Maternal parent smoking during the first year of life
The difference between hay fever and the common cold
Unlike the common cold, hay fever is a non-contagious viral infection. The things that differentiate a common cold from an allergy are generally when It appears, how quickly it appears and how long it lasts.
Colds occur in the colder months, and symptoms appear around 2-3 days after exposure to the virus, and the duration of the cold would last 3-14 days.
The most noticeable difference between hay fever and a cold is the nasal discharge. Hay fever sufferers will experience clear nasal discharge, whereas the nasal discharge will usually be green or yellow with a cold.
Diagnosis of hay fever
Seasonal hay fever is often easy to self-diagnose, especially if it is seasonal. If the symptoms are less defined as persistent for several months, and may require allergy testing to determine the cause. Allergy skin prick testing is the most reliable way to confirm hay fever.
A skin prick test is carried out by placing a small drop of fluid that contains an allergen onto the skin. The skin is then pricked through the liquid. If the body is sensitive to the allergen, then the body releases a chemical called histamine at the site of the irritant, causing a red bump, itch or rash to occur. This reaction will indicate that an allergy is present and the cause or trigger of the allergic reaction.
Blood tests can also be performed where people have very sensitive skin or troublesome and persistent symptoms. Blood tests are no more effective than skin prick testing.
Patients require only one dose to minimise hay fever symptoms for the entire season (up to three months)
Cost-effective compared to investing in all other treatments
The injection does not pass through the digestive system or the liver
It could reduce or even stop your hay fever symptoms for the whole hay fever season
Although many people can and do benefit from this treatment, we won’t carry it out if you have:
Allergy to any of the ingredients
Pregnancy or breastfeeding
A tendency to keloid scarring
High blood pressure or heart failure
Lowered immune system
Bowel or stomach disorders
Infection of inflammation of the leg veins
Mental health disorders
Active cancer or undergoing chemotherapy
WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
Procedure Time: 10 minutes
Results: Take effect one to 48 hours after the injection. The effects of the injection continue for at least three weeks, with many people reporting relief from symptoms that last the entire season. Typically, one dose of the hay fever injection is sufficient to protect you during the spring and summer months.
Potential Effects: None
Back to work: Immediately
Anaesthetic: Not required