Hay fever symptoms, causes and how to beat it

Learn how to reduce the effects of hay fever with these simple tips, plus how to tell the difference between coronavirus symptoms and hay fever. 

Hazel pollen

Tackle seasonal hay fever with these simple tips, plus how to tell the difference between coronavirus symptoms and hay fever.

When is hay fever season in the UK?

In the UK, there are three different pollen seasons – tree, grass and weed pollen which weather-depending, start to affect sufferers from late March until the end of September.

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Tree pollen season tends to be from March to May, followed by grass pollen in May to July and then the weed pollen season continues from May/June to September.

Most people tend to be allergic to one type of pollen more than others, although some unlucky sufferers can be affected by each season.

Which trees in the UK cause pollen allergies?

The tree pollen from hazel, birch and alder are common tree species known to cause allergies.


How to reduce the impact of hay fever

Create a barrier

Rubbing a little bit of Vaseline on the inside of your lower nostril and onto your eyelashes can help prevent pollen getting into your system.

Apple tree blossom Getty Images

Wear shades

Wearing wraparound sunglasses will create a physical barrier between your itchy eyes and pollen and protect your eyes from the sun’s UVA rays on bright days.

Avoid being outdoors when the pollen count is high

Pollen tends to be at its highest during the early morning and evenings, although on warm days it can be at a high level all day. Check the forecast and if possible it is best to avoid being outdoors in these hours.

Shower or wash at the end of the day

Take a shower at the end of your day to wash off any  pollen that may have travelled with you. It’ll ensure you get an easier night sleep as they won’t be transferred to your bed.

Try camomile tea

Herbal tea in a glass cup and saucer outdoors
Herbal tea such as camomile may help soothe hay fever symptoms/Credit: Getty

Camomile tea may help reduce hay fever symptoms – it’s an antioxidant, antihistamine and an anti inflammatory. Drink a cup daily and use as a compress by submerging the tea bag in water for three minutes, squeezing out excess water, refrigerating till cold and applying to inflamed eyes for five minutes.

Take an antihistamine

Antihistamines are medications that are often used to relieve symptoms of allergies, such as hay fever. They are best taken before the hay fever starts and can be bought from all pharmacies.  Speak to your GP or visit the NHS website for advice before taking. 

Is local honey a cure for hay fever?

Jar of honey with spoon in it
Locally sourced honey may help reduce your symptoms of hay fever/Credit: Getty

Some hay fever sufferers claim honey may help desensitise you to the more irritating kind of pollen, however scientific studies suggest that honey has no benefit to hay fever.

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How do hay fever symptoms differ to coronavirus?

Unfortunately, for many hay fever sufferers, peak hay fever season has hit during the coronavirus pandemic. While it is normal to sneeze, have a runny nose and cough with hay fever, the symptoms are different to the main symptoms of coronavirus, which is more likely to cause a persistent dry cough and a fever.  Check the NHS website for advice on hay fever with more in-depth advice on how to treat and NHS advice for coronavirus symptoms and treatment.