Hay fever - What is it and what can you do about it?

As soon as the spring arrives and the sun starts to shine again, the irritations of allergies will re-enter our lives. Hay fever! On warm, windy days, millions of pollen can float in the air. Nothing wrong with that, but you have to be allergic to it ...
Exciting pollen from trees, grasses and plants can make your eyes tickle. Did you know that about fifteen to twenty percent of Dutch people have a pollen allergy? If you suffer from it, you are certainly not the only one ... Too bad that there is no cure yet. You can, however, relieve the symptoms so that you can walk outside without runny nose, sneeze or irritation.

What is hay fever?

Hay fever are allergic complaints to the respiratory tract caused by a reaction of the immune system after inhaling pollen, such as grass pollen. The medical name is 'allergic rhinitis'. The complaints are very similar to those of a cold.
The first grass pollen is already spread by the wind in May, but there are grass species that release pollen until September.
Do you want to know what is going around right now? Take a look at the Hooikoort weather report.

When our body gets a foreign substance - for example, after a sting of an insect - the mast cells produce histamine. This ensures removal of the blood vessels so that waste materials can be removed and antibodies can be supplied. The itching and pain is a warning to us that something in our body is not right. In case of an excessive histamine reaction too much histamine is produced, causing the mucous membranes to turn red and swell. This also creates an excessive mucus production. This is what happens with hay fever. The pollen is harmless, yet our body wants to make these invaders harmless through the production of histamine.

The name hay fever has nothing to do with fever or hay. The name was devised in 1928 by the English doctor, John Bostock. It struck him that the condition he had a lot of trouble with always happened in the haytime. Because he felt a bit feverish, he called hay fever.

Hay fever and children

Hay fever can also occur in children. Here, too, the cause is the pollen in the air. You can have your child checked with the doctor. Fortunately, there are also various self-care products for children at pharmacy and chemist's for sale.
Hay fever often seems like a cold in children, but if he continues to suffer from a runny nose or watery eyes for a long time, it is no bad thing to have him tested for hay fever. A simple allergy test can be used to determine which pollen he is allergic to.

Hay fever does not occur spontaneously but your mucous membrane gets more and more sensitive over the years. The chance of hay fever is also determined hereditary. When one of your parents suffers from hay fever, their child has a 30 percent chance of getting it. When both parents suffer from it, this is even 50 percent.

Limiting allergy

In sunny, dry weather, more plants and trees are in bloom and a lot of pollen flies through the air. A rain shower can decrease the amount of pollen considerably, but if this does not happen, everything flows around you. Barring yourself in the house, you can not prevent yourself from coming into contact with these allergy samples, but you can limit the effect as much as possible.
We give some tips.


To prevent the pollen from directly reaching your eyes, it is best to wear sunglasses outdoors. Preferably glasses that you close well around your eyes. The use of Vaseline around your eyes ensures that they are even better protected. Do not try to rub your eyes. Often you have (unknowingly) pollen on your hands, so you rub them directly into your eyes and make everything worse.

Have you been in contact with pollen? Then put your clothes directly in the washing machine. Wash your hair so that no residue remains in it. Try to keep your bedroom pollen-free by regularly vacuuming and opening windows only when the wind is not there. If that is the case, you can keep the windows shut until the wind is turned. If you still want to be able to open your window day and night, you can decide to place an anti-pollinator for your window.
You can also wait with airing until there is a heavy rain shower. Many pollen have been flushed out of the air at that moment.

Did you know that some substances, such as tobacco, paint, perfume, hair spray, house dust, exhaust fumes or strong smelling flowers, can make the hay fever complaints worse? It is better to avoid these substances as much as possible during the hayfever time.

It may be an open door, but do you also think about your hay fever complaints when decorating your garden? Avoid plants and trees with pollen that you are allergic to.

Symptoms of hay fever

A common complaint is itchy eyes. The best thing is to put a wet washcloth on your eyes, to ease the itching. Do not rub with your fingers, no matter how big the temptation is. You only make the irritation worse.
Other symptoms of hay fever may include: sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, red eyes, itching, tickling cough, chest tightness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, poor sleep, headaches and / or watery eyes.

The allergic reaction is characterized by early and late reaction. Complaints such as runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing are part of the early reaction. In addition, an allergic reaction also has a late phase in which inflammatory cells are involved. This inflammatory reaction can occur in both the upper and lower airways. The complaints that can be experienced are a blocked nose (upper airways), coughing, wheezing (asthma and / or bronchitis) that can be accompanied by a feeling of breathlessness (lower airways). Complaints from the upper airways can spread to the lower airways.

Video: What is Hayfever?

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