What is Hay fever?

Medically known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, hay fever is a respiratory system disorder and common allergic reaction to pollen, with over 15 million sufferers in the UK alone. "...Over 15 million people in the UK suffer from hay fever..." Pollen is the fine powder produced by trees, grass, flowers and plants to fertilise other plants. When these tiny particles come into contact with the cells that line your mouth, nose, eyes and throat, they can irritate them and trigger the release of histamine which is an allergic reaction.

Hay Fever Symptoms can include:

  • frequent sneezing

  • Runny or blocked nose

  • Itchy, red or watery eyes

  • An itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears

  • Cough, caused by postnasal drip (mucus dripping down the throat from the back of the nose)

Although less common, you may also experience

  • The loss of your sense of smell

  • Facial pain (caused by blocked sinuses)

  • Headaches

  • Earache

  • Tiredness and fatigue

Depending upon the kind of pollen you're allergic to, you may notice symptoms at different times:

  • Tree pollen causes hay fever from March to early May

  • Grass produce pollen from late May to earlyAugust

  • Other plants can become your enemies as late as October

...While some symptoms may be less common and not as mild, they can interfere with your daily lives and activities such as work and school and disrupt your sleep...

Why does my hay fever sometimes get worse?

Hay fever symptoms are likely to worsen if the pollen count is higher.  Weather conditions affect hay fever symptoms as warmer sunshine causes more pollen to be released and higher wind conditions cause the pollen to be carried in the air further and faster.  On days in which the wind is low, it’s not as hot or days when it’s wet and rainy; your symptoms will improve as there is less pollen in the air.

Does everybody get hay fever?

No, but hay fever is likely to affect those with a family history of allergies particularly eczema or asthma.

What can I take to help with my hay fever?

If you suffer from any of the hay fever symptoms there is nothing to worry about as in most cases, you can get medication over the counter where you can also speak with a pharmacist who can advise on treatments for you or your children. If you struggle more than most however, and can’t control your hay fever symptoms with over the counter treatment then speak with your GP who can advise you further or other treatments.  

...Histamine is a substance released by the body in allergic conditions...

Treatments for hay fever symptoms include:


Antihistamines treat hay fever by blocking the action of the chemical histamine, which the body releases when it thinks it is under attack. This prevents the symptoms of the allergic reaction from occurring. Antihistamines are usually very effective at treating watery eyes, itching and sneezing but may not be as effective when it comes to clearing a blocked nose. Over the counter Antihistamines include Benadryl, Zirtec and Clarityn. Dr Yasmin Conway advises that antihistamines can cause drowsiness and this is particularly the case with chlorphenamine (Piriton). The newer antihistamines cause less of this effect. If you suffer this side effect yuou should not take the medication if you are driving or operating potentially dangerous machinery.

Corticosteroid Nasal Sprays e.g. Beconase

If you suffer more with nasal symptoms, nasal sprays may be better for you as they have anti-inflammatory effect. When pollen triggers your allergic reaction, the inside of your nose becomes inflamed; corticosteroid can reduce the inflammation and help prevent the symptoms of hay fever. Theses sprays also tend to easy eye symptoms, although it is not clear how. Dr Yasmin Conway advises that it takes several days for these sprays to have a full effect. It can take up to 3 weeks in some cases so it is best to start to use them a few weeks before the hay fever season starts, if you are a regular sufferer. Remember to use the spray each day if you are a hay fever sufferer.

Decongestant Nasal Sprays e.g. Otrivin

Many hay fever sufferers will have nasal symptoms which include a blocked nose. Nasal decongestant sprays can help alleviate a blocked nose as they reduce the swelling of the blood vessels in your nose which helps open the in the nasal passage making it easier to breath. These can only be used for 5 days continually so are  best for people suffering intermittent rather than daily symptoms.

Eye Drops e.g. Opticrom

Eye Drops are available from you pharmacist to treat symptoms affecting your eyes such as itchiness, redness, and watering. These eye drops also contain antihistamine to help reduce the inflammation in your eyes, which will relieve the symptoms.


This is a course of tablets containing grass pollen extracts. It is a form of immunotherapy exposing you to small amounts of the substance you are allergic to in order to reduce the allergy. Normally a specialist would initiate this treatment as the specific allergy must first be diagnosed with a positive skin prick test or blood test.

Tips for avoiding pollen:

The pollen count is generally given with weather forecasts. A high pollen count is above 50. During this time, it may help to:

  • Stay indoors with windows closed as much as possible

  • Avoid areas where grass is being cut and avoid large grassy areas

  • Consider wearing wrap-around sunglasses outdoors and even a pollen filter for your car

  • After being outside it is also worth washing your hair and showering


Don't let hay fever ruin your summer! Speak with your GP or book an appointment today on 020 7638 2999

Employee Healthcare and Benefits - Why is healthcare so important to a business and its employees and why do employees value this perk so highly?

Employee healthcare and benefits have become an important part of a company’s strategy when securing the best possible talent to help their business grow. But of all the benefits offered, why is healthcare so important to a business and its employees and why do employees value this perk so highly?

Typical benefits can include a whole list of services from cash plans, gym memberships, healthy eating promotions, pensions and insurance as well as health screening and promotion.  Benefits are a great thing to offer new as well as existing employees and can be part of an employer’s long-term approach to improve the productivity and engagement of their staff. Of all these benefits however, workplace health promotion and yearly health screens tend to be received by employees far better than most. 

"...Employers who implement a comprehensive set of strategies to address employee health and safety benefit by having the ability to reach most if not all employees at the work-site simultaneously…"

For employees, the maintenance of their own individual health is often seen as a difficult challenge a midst the demands of the working day, family responsibilities, and other social obligations. However, adopting healthy behavior not only reduces the risk of developing disabling or life threatening diseases with their associated costs, but improves everyday quality of life

 In a recent survey, 77% of employees responded that “health and wellness programs positively impact the culture at work. 

Participation in health promotion activities through a workplace health program allows individuals to develop knowledge, self-management and coping skills. Employees often see a comprehensive workplace health program as an investment made by their company for their own well-being and a reflection of how much the company actually does care about them and other employees…this just might impact on job satisfaction and morale.

Employers can also benefit from workplace health programs through enhanced productivity, decreased employee absenteeism, and even lower insurance and workers compensation costs. These strategies help create a culture of health and make the healthy choice the easy choice for employees. 

In addition, workplace health programs are increasingly seen as a core component of attractive employee compensation and benefits packages. This can be used as a recruitment and retention tool to attract and keep high quality employees and maintain not only morale and job satisfaction but also productivity.

  • Employees in good health are 3 times more productive than employees in poor health
  •  Healthy employees are able to concentrate more on their jobs and the make 60% fewer errors than employees in poor health
  • If an employee will exercise at least once a week, they will reduce their average number of sick days from 10 to 5
  • 87% of employees consider health and wellness benefits when choosing an employer

"…The wellness and well-being perk has become an important part of company healthcare and sickness absence strategies and recruitment…"