Health Horizons: Hay fever and me – Craig's story

Last reviewed:
January 9, 2024
Next review:
January 9, 2026

The onset of hay fever symptoms can be a challenging experience for hay fever patients. Craig shares his personal story of dealing with hay fever and the impact it has had on his work, home and social life. From discussing the triggers of his symptoms to sharing advice for others who are also struggling, Craig's insights offer a unique perspective on how to cope with hay fever and not let it take over your life.

How long have you suffered from hay fever?

I've had regular bouts of hay fever for as long as I can remember - being a child of primary school age and needing to come back indoors while my friends stayed out playing during the summer and sitting in exam halls in high school years, very self-conscious about the amount of noise I was making while trying to stop my nose from running and the rest of the room is silent. Right through to now as an adult, needing to take a nap during the day because my eyes are so swollen and itchy that I can barely keep them open.

What triggers your hay fever symptoms? Do certain seasons or environments make your symptoms worse?

The summertime and warmer months are by far the worst times of the year for me with the pollen count typically being higher and the climate being drier in general. Being outdoors during this time, especially on nice days when pollen is rife in the air, is a regular trigger for me. Although I can still suffer at night, mornings and afternoons tend to be the most active times of days for my hay fever to kick in.

Unsurprisingly, outdoor areas featuring grass, flowers and trees (or actual hay!) tend to be the environments most likely to trigger symptoms, but even in the city symptoms can be really bad on days when the pollen count is high.

What kind of symptoms do you experience?

For me, the main symptoms are an incessantly runny nose, impossible-not-to-scratch irritation in and around the eyes and itchy inner ears. This sometimes happens to the point of debilitation and complete inability to concentrate on anything else. Occasionally, during especially bad attacks, I can experience a very dry mouth along with a tingly tongue, catchy cough and visible irritation of the skin. I've also experienced sporadic shortness of breath.

How has this condition affected your work, home and social life?

There have been days when I've needed to pick up work later at night due to being waylaid throughout the day, and in the past when I worked in hospitality, there were times when I really had to struggle through shifts (and was probably absolutely useless on the job). Similarly with home and social life, there are times where I'll just not go to certain events because I know it's a bad idea. My wife likes to sit in the garden when the weather is nice - something I don't normally allow myself the risk to accompany her in unless I have nothing else on that day.

Unusually, being on holiday abroad in hotter climates can be hit or miss - depending on the location, I can be either mildly to moderately affected throughout, or experience no symptoms whatsoever for the duration.

Hay fever symptoms can affect your full day. How do you normally handle these?

I'll take a pre-emptive daily antihistamine as a first port of call when I notice 'hay fever season' kicking off. Cetirizine used to help in a minor way, but of recent years it seems not to make a dent. Loratadine has never worked for me at all. The more modern offerings such as Treathay and Allevia seem to mitigate symptoms somewhat more effectively, but on bad days - if it's happening, it's happening.

When the situation is in 'damage control' mode, I'll use a nasal flush such as Sterimar, cleansing eye drops (I've found these to be much of a muchness in terms of effectiveness and have tried them all!) - as well as regular handwashing, nose-blowing, and clothes-changing. If an attack feels beyond repair, I'll take one of the aforementioned naps where possible or stem the flow of the runny nose element by stuffing paper tissues in there.

What advice would you give to someone who is also suffering from hay fever?

I would fully advise anyone who suffers from hay fever to attack it as much as it attacks you - being passive and wallowing during an attack is the worst thing you can do. Being active, trying different antihistamines to find the one that works best for you, and trying to clean and flush the affected areas thoroughly are all good ways to mitigate the symptoms on especially bad days. Otherwise, I'd offer that staying indoors can help during high-pollen days (even though it can be incredibly FOMO inducing!). Some words of encouragement would be that when you are having a particularly itchy, sneezy, drippy day - remember that it's highly unlikely that you will have two in a row!

Get the treatments you need

We offer a range of effective hay fever treatments:

  • Fexofenadine
  • Dymista
  • Nasonex
  • Rhinolast

For some medications, it can take up to two weeks to reach the optimum therapeutic effect.

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