It starts with a slight tickle at the back of your throat. Soon it’s fullblown itching, followed by irritated red eyes and bouts of sneezing and coughing. That’s when you know it’s officially hay fever season. And it doesn't help that this year's pollen count is high.
Many are happy the dark, cold months of winter are behind us, but for hay fever sufferers, spring and summer can be a snot-filled nightmare. It’s more than just the irritation of sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes. Hay fever can affect your quality of sleep, ability to concentrate, and can even cause breathing difficulties, low blood pressure and asthma attacks. And if it feels like your symptoms are getting worse year on year, you could be right.
“Hay fever can worsen with age as the immune system can become more reactive to specific allergens,” says Professor Claudia Gray, an allergist at Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town. She adds that hotter pollen seasons, thanks to global warming, may also contribute to worsening symptoms. Pollen loves hanging about in hot air, whereas wet weather supresses it during winter. Here’s more about what hay fever is and, although there’s no cure, what you can do to help ease those aggravating symptoms.