You have allergic rhinitis
RHINITIS IS a condition where something makes the inside of your nose inflamed, causing sneezing, itchiness and a persistent runny nose. The effect on the nasal passages can also cause symptoms in the sinuses and the eyes.
It is a very common condition affecting at least one in five of us, and can be caused by various different allergens, such as pollen, animal fur or dust. Rhinitis caused by pollen is also known as hay fever, and this tends to be seasonal.
Hay fever affects almost a quarter of the UK population. For most sufferers, it is a minor irritation but for some, the symptoms can be so severe they are forced to take time off work.
The pollen count prediction put out by the Met Office is intended to give hay fever sufferers an indication of what they might expect their symptoms to be on any given day, allowing them to take appropriate action. It describes the number of pollen particles in one square metre of air — under 30 is low, more than 50 is high.
Most people find their hay fever symptoms start at a pollen count of 50 or more, so if that is predicted you need to have your treatment with you. In any given day the pollen count rises to a peak in the early evening.
Some 90 per cent of people with hay fever are allergic to grass pollen and this causes hay fever between May and July.
About a quarter of sufferers are allergic to tree pollen, normally birch and oak, which causes early hay fever from March to May.
You can also have hay fever in the autumn from late flowering plants and from the spores of fungi such as wild mushrooms. Avoiding pollen is the essence of hay fever prevention. This is not always practical, obviously. Nonmedical treatments for hay fever, such as saline nose sprays and Haymax, operate on the principle of keeping the pollen away from the nose, thereby preventing the allergic response, rather than treating it.
Next week, I’ll explore which hay fever treatment you should be using and what to do when it no longer works.