Everyone knows hay fever occurs between March and July in the UK. Those who are allergic to pollen will be itching their eyes and sounding off about blocked sinuses. It’s common for people to find Hay fever symptoms get worse at night, but is this a fact? and if so, why is hay fever worse at night?
Social media timelines and full of complaints about Hay fever.
One Twitter user asked: “Anyone else’s hay fever seem to be worse at night?”
Another tweeted: “My hayfever has been awful today but it always seems to feel 100x worse at night.”
A third tweet read: “Hay fever was sent by the devil, I swear it’s worse at night time.”
Are these claims backed by science or is it all in our heads? Express.co.uk chatted to GP Registrar and Optometrist Dr Khalid H Sachak to find out.
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What causes hay fever?
We know it as hay fever, but the allergy is actually called ‘seasonal allergic rhinitis’.
Dr Sachak explained: “Seasonal allergic rhinitis is caused by pollen.
“Pollen is a fine powder released from plants from around the middle of March for tree pollen, and the middle of May for grass pollen.
“Both are released until around July.
“The powder circulates in the air and can enter the sinuses through the eyes, mouth, nose or throat.
“This typically causes sneezing, a runny or blocked nose, a headache, cough and watering eyes.
“Most patients that we see are allergic to grass pollen.”
Why is hay fever worse at night?
It is true that hay fever symptoms may be worse at night.
This is because pollen tends to be more prevalent in the early evening, as well as the morning.
Dr Sachak said: “Hay fever symptoms may be worse at night due to the pollen count being higher in the early evening.
“Bad hay fever at night may also be a sign that the person has an allergy to dust mites or mould contained within soft furnishings, bedding and mattress.
“If you suffer most during the night, try sleeping in a more raised position or even change rooms.
“Avoid opening a window if you can, as the pollen in the air falls to the ground when the air cools.
“If a window is open, you could find yourself waking up sneezing and coughing.”
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Why is hay fever worse some days than others?
Dr Sachak explained that hay fever can be worse some days than others, or even worse in one year than another.
He said: “The levels of pollen in the air can vary according to your geographical location, along with levels of pollution.
“You’ll notice too that it can differ depending on the weather, which is why TV weather forecasters always comment on pollen levels at this time of year.
“Humidity and warm, dry, and windy conditions are most favourable for spreading pollen.
“Levels can also vary year on year, due to the different plant species’ rhythm for pollen production.
“Oak trees, for example, are known for tending to release the most amount of pollen every five years.”
How can you tell the difference between hay fever and coronavirus?
Hay fever symptoms could be confused with coronavirus, but Dr Sachak explained the key differences.
It is worth noting that while there tend to be common symptoms surrounding those affected by hay fever, like a runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, individuals can be affected to varying degrees.
You may only display one or two of the symptoms of hay fever if you are allergic to pollen.
Dr Sachak said: “Hay fever and allergy symptoms tend to be milder and fluctuate depending on the time of day as pollen levels are often higher in the afternoon and evening.
“Similarly, wet weather may lead to patients experiencing milder symptoms.
“The main symptoms of coronavirus are a high temperature or new continuous cough.
“The symptoms can overlap but the key differences are that hayfever does not cause a high temperature.
“Most people with hayfever do not feel unwell.
“If your hayfever symptoms are not well controlled with basic measures such as anthistamine drops, tablets or steroid nasal sprays or you are concerned please contact your GP for advice.”
What are the best tips for reducing the symptoms of hay fever?
When it comes to battling hay fever, you should get prepared early.
Dr Sachak advised: “As symptoms begin to occur at the same time every year, it’s easy to anticipate and stock up on medication and start using them early.
“Whether that be prescription medication such as inhalers, or over the counter remedies including nasal sprays, paracetamol and eye drops.
“I also recommend putting a thin layer of clear Vaseline under your nose, which can help to trap pollen particles and prevent them from entering your nasal passage.
“The weather forecast will let you know each day when the pollen is due to be at its highest, so try to stay indoors during that time – not difficult in current circumstances – and keep windows shut.
“Of course you also need to avoid any irritants indoors as much as possible, so make sure you keep dust levels at a minimum by wiping surfaces with a damp cloth and hoovering regularly.
“You can fit some hoovers with a special HEPA filter, which results in less dust being released into the air which is particularly valuable for those with respiratory conditions.
“If you are out and about on your daily exercise, try to wear some kind of wraparound eye protection to avoid pollen drifting into your eyes and make sure you change, shower and wash your outdoor clothes when you get home.”
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