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Hay fever - What are the symptoms of hay fever?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Hay fever affects people in different ways.

You may:[2][10]

  • Sneeze a lot

  • Have a runny nose

  • Have an itchy nose

  • Have difficulty breathing through your nose because it's blocked.

These are the main symptoms of hay fever. But if you have a bad bout of hay fever, you may also:[10][16]

  • Have a dry, tickly cough

  • Lose your sense of smell and taste for a short time

  • Have itchy, red eyes that water

  • Have an itchy throat and feel itchy on the insides of your ears too

  • Feel pressure and pain over your cheeks and forehead

  • Feel run-down and weak

  • Wheeze and feel short of breath.

You get these symptoms because your immune system has an abnormal reaction to pollen or mould. This reaction makes the lining of your nose and throat irritated and swollen.

sr-sneezing-new_default.jpgOther parts of your body, such as your lungs and eyes, can also become irritated.

Some people with hay fever also get an itchy, swollen throat when they eat uncooked fruit that has a stone, such as plums and peaches. This tends to happen to people who get hay fever in the spring.

Researchers aren't sure why this is, but this type of fruit may have things in it that trigger your immune system in the same way that pollen does.[16] This is called oral allergy syndrome. Cooking this type of fruit before you eat it seems to stop this happening.

Do hay fever symptoms have a pattern?

Your hay fever symptoms may change during the day.

  • Some symptoms start suddenly, the moment you breathe in pollen or mould spores.[17] Within a few minutes, your nose is likely to start itching and running. You'll probably sneeze a lot too.

  • Other symptoms start hours later. Your nose may feel blocked, and you may have difficulty breathing through it.[10] About half of all people who have hay fever get this.[17]

Your symptoms will probably change from day to day. This is because they're affected by things like how much pollen is in the air (the pollen count) on any given day.

Last Updated: August 02, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.
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