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Hay Fever - Sneezing Through Summer

Summer is here and although hot, sunny weather is always welcome, spare a moment to think of the estimated 10 million people in the UK who suffer from hay fever and for whom this time of year can be a nightmare.

Hay fever, or Allergic Rhinitis, to give it its medical name, causes blocked noses, itchy eyes, headaches, disturbed sleep and listlessness. It’s caused by a reaction to pollen but not all people react to the same pollen, which is why there are so many different responses.

Good Pollen

There is such a thing! Flowers which are pollinated by insects tend to have what is called ‘sticky pollen’ designed by nature to attach itself to the insect when it visits the flower rather than being blown in the wind. These include orchids, roses, hydrangea and peonies. Also, flowers from spring bulbs, tulips, iris and daffodils have a lower pollen count.

The worst culprits

Despite what you might think, it is not flower pollen but trees, grasses and weeds which cause the most reactions. The plainer and more unremarkable the plant, the less insects are attracted to it, so it has to work harder to reproduce. Flowers which rely on wind to spread their seed are notorious for triggering hay fever such as asters, alstroemeria, dahlia, freesia, jasmine, lilies, mimosa and helianthus.

Hay Fever and Weddings

There is almost bound to be someone in the wedding party who is a hay fever sufferer. Without having to use artificial flowers there are other ways to cut down the effects of pollen. Avoid using pollen heavy flowers in the bridal bouquet and recommend that corsages be worn on the wrist rather than on a dress pinned under someone’s nose. The less scented the rose, the less likely it is to cause a reaction, so choosing Dutch grown, many of which have little or no scent, over English garden roses could be a wise move.

Did you know?

  • That you can get hay fever at any age, and it is the most common allergic reaction.

  • Boys suffer more than girls, but women and men are equally affected.

  • Reactions can start as early as February, triggered by the release of pollen from trees.

  • The pollen count is the number of pollen grains per cubic meter of air.

  • There is currently no cure for hay fever. Sorry.




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