Hay fever will affect up to 1 in 5 people at some point in their life.

Hay fever is a modern common allergic condition, also referred to as allergic rhinitis.

Hay fever was first described at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution by Dr John Bostock, who described it in himself. It took him several years to identify a dozen or more hay fever sufferers. This shows that it was quite uncommon before the Industrial Revolution.

The incidence of hay fever has steadily increased since the Industrial Revolution and it now affects almost 20% of the population in the UK.

The peak age for contracting hay fever is 20 years, although many children suffer, and it may develop at any age.

Two of the factors that contribute to hay fever are pollution and weather. Hay fever is twice as common in towns as in the country. This is largely as a result of road traffic pollution and the effect of sunlight on traffic pollution, which is referred to as “photochemical smog”.

In 20 years the number of people treated for hay fever has risen over 400% although city pollen counts have dropped.  Asthma and eczema are also rising in incidence by about 5% per year.

Symptoms of hay fever

Hay fever can occur at any time between February and September depending on the pollen(s) responsible. The commonest problem is with grasses and these pollens are produced from April to the end of September.

The symptoms of hay fever include:

  • frequent sneezing
  • runny or blocked nose
  • itchy, red or watery eyes
  • an itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
  • cough caused by postnasal drip, which is mucus dripping down the throat from the back of the nose

Many suffers have additional symptoms, such as:

  • the loss sense of smell
  • facial pain (caused by blocked sinuses)
  • earaches
  • headaches
  • tiredness, fatigue
  • sleep deprivation

Many people suffer in sunny, bright weather; however, a proportion of people suffer more at the onset of wet, rainy weather.

Some people are affected more as a result of the dramatic increase of mould spores which occur during rain and thunder storms.

Treatments for hay fever

At Breakspear Medical, we use a holistic approach to treatment and avoid drug therapy programmes where possible.

Our hay fever treatment varies greatly from traditional treatments, which usually involve the use of antihistamines, steroids and decongestants. Antihistamines often cause drowsiness and many rarely do more than modify the symptoms. Steroids come in many different forms and have many undesirable side effects and reduce immunity to infection. Decongestants are drugs which cause the lining of the nose to shrink, thus reducing the congestion which occurs as a result of histamine release in hay fever. Unfortunately decongestants often need to be taken with increasing frequency, in increasing dosage, and symptoms may become even worse as the drug’s effects wear off.

The first step in treating your hay fever is to have a consultation with one of our doctors. After this, your doctor will put together your treatment programme. We specialise in the treatment of allergy, intolerance and sensitivity by using the proven system of allergy management called low-dose immunotherapy (LDI), together with a nutritional supplement programme, which supports your immune system.

Hay fever sufferers undergoing treatment will receive:

  • a booklet with information and tips on how to change your environment and diet to improve your condition and a listing of the allergens for which you will be tested including such items as histamine, various moulds and pollens
  • a nutritional supplement programme to strengthen your immune system. Good nutrition is important because some foods can exacerbate symptoms; some people are helped by avoiding wheat and histamine-containing and histamine-releasing foods, such as cheese, strawberries, pork and shellfish.

Costs

Breakspear Medical treats each patient individually, which means that there is no standard treatment programme for everyone with hay fever for a set price.  After your first appointment, you will be given a detailed estimate, with your recommended treatment programme with all the costs, which will be explained to you by your Patient Liaison Officer.

On the day of your appointment or anytime afterward, if you have any specific questions regarding prices, estimates and treatment programmes, please contact a Patient Liaison Officer, by phone 01442 261 333 ext 293, or email: liaison@breakspearmedical.com

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