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Hay Fever myths busted: From 'will I grow out of it, to can local honey cure me?'

Mirror logo Mirror 4 days ago Natasha Holt

a person in a yellow flower in the grass © Getty Images It's going to be hot, hot, hot - and that brings with it the start of the hay fever season.

Britain will be hotter than Sydney this week as a “continental blowtorch” brings a week-long heatwave - with temperatures set to soar as high as 27°C on Thursday.

Forecasters have described a 1,500-mile wide 'African air plume' as a 'blowtorch', which will see Europe heat up and Britain enjoy its hottest April day in a decade.

As hay fever season begins around 18 million people in the UK will soon be suffering from its effects.

Surprisingly though, for such a common allergy, there are still many old wives’ tales about the debilitating condition...

Forecasters say an 'African air plume' will cause temperatures to soar this week © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Forecasters say an 'African air plume' will cause temperatures to soar this week

MYTH: You grow out of it

This is a common misconception but, sadly, according to the NHS, only half of sufferers believe their symptoms have improved after several years. But for a lucky 10-20% of cases, the symptoms disappear completely after a number of years.

MYTH: You only get it in the spring and summer

It is true that grass pollen is released during spring and summer, but other pollens can also cause a reaction and these are released at various times of the year. Many people are allergic to tree, grass and weed pollens which means they can have hay fever symptoms from as early as January to as late as November.

MYTH: You’re allergic to flowers

The pollen that’s most likely to cause an allergy is the airborne type, from grass, trees and weeds.

Grass pollen is the most common hay fever allergen and affects around 95% of sufferers. Most flowers have pollen too heavy and sticky to be carried through the air.

Related: Stop sneezing! Try these 10 tips to keep pollen allergy at bay

How to survive pollen season Stop sneezing! Try these 10 tips to keep pollen allergy at bay

MYTH: Antihistamines make you drowsy

Antihistamines help relieve the symptoms of hay fever and in the past had a reputation for causing drowsiness. However, science has moved on and the second or third-generation versions don’t cause drowsiness in most people.

MYTH: Rain clears pollen

Again, there is some truth in this because rain will temporarily clear the air of any pollen. The problem is that stormy weather has the ­opposite effect and breaks up pollen particles, increasing the pollen count and making the particles easier to inhale.

Stormy weather will also cause movement in the air, bringing pollen grains down from above head height while at the same time stirring up the pollen grains near the ground.

Hay fever sufferers also need to be mindful of asthma during these storms as research shows that a large proportion of people who suffer asthma for the first time during a thunderstorm have hay fever.

MYTH: Hay fever starts when you’re young

Hay fever levels are set to rise this weekend (Image: metoffice/Twitter) © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Hay fever levels are set to rise this weekend (Image: metoffice/Twitter) The symptoms do usually start in childhood or in your teens and at that age they tend to affect boys more than girls. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get it as an adult.

In fact, a 2010 study showed a huge surge in late-onset hay fever cases and experts agree this is becoming more common. Scientists believe this could be due to climate change, pollution, new species of plants in the UK and the trend towards increasingly sterile homes.

MYTH: Antihistamine medicines stop working after a while

Hay fever symptoms fluctuate between mild and severe all the time, depending on the pollen count and your exposure to it. When symptoms are mild, people believe their medication is working but as they get worse they often become convinced they’ve developed a tolerance to antihistamines. 

© Provided by Shutterstock This isn’t the case. Your ­symptoms will have increased simply because your hay fever has got worse or you’ve had more exposure to pollen.

Antihistamines can be taken for prolonged periods of time without becoming less effective. However if over-the-counter medicines aren’t working, see your GP who can prescribe a stronger antihistamine.

MYTH: Local honey helps to prevent hay fever

Many people swear that a teaspoon of local honey each day desensitises you to pollen and helps alleviate hay fever symptoms. Sadly, there is no scientific evidence to support this.

In fact, bees don’t pollinate grass and trees, and the pollen in honey is the heavy, flower-based pollen that doesn’t cause hay fever.

MYTH: I’ll be fine if I’m on the beach

a man sitting on a bench: Credits: PA © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: PA Sadly this isn’t quite true, so if you’re planning to decamp to the beach for some respite you might want to think again. It’s common to find grassy areas close to beaches, so even on the sand you can be exposed to grass pollen.

If the wind is blowing off the sea on to the land your symptoms might be better for a while but if you’re on the beach and the wind is blowing off the land, the pollen count will be higher.

MYTH: I should only take antihistamines when the pollen count is high

Experts say most allergy medicines work best if they are already in the person’s system or are taken ­immediately after exposure to the allergen.

That is the case even if you have shown no allergic symptoms as it is likely you might already have inflammation in your airways, even if you haven’t noticed it.

So even if your symptoms are ­relatively mild they may well worsen as the hay fever season progresses and the inflammation increases. Speak to a pharmacist about the best way to keep symptoms at bay.

Related: Allergy Shots For Hay Fever Work--But At A Glacial Pace (provided by Wochit News)

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