Hay fever: Why it's not to be sneezed at

By Linda Geddes Is hay fever becoming more widespread? (Image: Nick Gregory/Alamy) FOR many of us, the misery descends in early spring and doesn’t lift until the nights start drawing in. Even then, the dust and fungal spores of autumn may bring fresh aggravation. Whether it’s itchy eyes, a streaming nose, disturbed sleep or uncontrollable sneezing, hay fever and other airborne allergies are one big irritation. Often, they’re dismissed as just that. Yet mounting evidence suggests we should be taking airborne allergies – aka allergic rhinitis – more seriously. Adults with moderate to severe hay fever take an extra four days off work per year on average, and may be less productive for up to 38 working days. Teenagers plagued by symptoms during exam time are significantly less likely to achieve their predicted grade, and people who get behind the wheel with untreated hay fever can be as dangerous as a drunk driver. “People trivialise hay fever, but it can impact many important things in life, including your quality of sleep, concentration, social interactions and self-esteem,” says Jean Emberlin, scientific director of Allergy UK. “Getting behind the wheel with hay fever can be as dangerous as being drunk” Worse, there’s a growing consensus that uncontrolled hay fever can develop into a genuinely life-threatening condition: asthma. With such allergies on the increase, and the pollen seasons supposedly getting longer and more intense, is there anything we can do to defend ourselves – and our children – against this annual peril? Read more: “Hay fever: Why it’s not to be sneezed at“ This article appeared in print under the headline “Hay fever:
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