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HealthInfo Canterbury

Hay fever

Hay fever childHay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis) is a very common condition in New Zealand. Hay fever is an allergic reaction to various pollens. When pollen comes into contact with the wet surfaces of your body (eyes, nose, mouth), your body recognises it as being foreign. In most people, the body ignores the pollen, but in people with hay fever, the body releases chemicals, one of which is called histamine, which causes inflammation, swelling, itching and redness.

Symptoms of hay fever include a runny or blocked nose, sneezing, itchy, red or watery eyes, and an itchy throat. Most people develop hay fever in childhood but it can also start in adulthood.

Although not serious, hay fever can make your life miserable by making it hard for you to sleep, concentrate at school or work, or enjoy being outside. Good preparation and treatment can help, and this is particularly important if you also suffer from asthma, because hay fever symptoms can make your asthma worse (80% of people with asthma also have hay fever).

It is important to prepare early for hay fever season.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Reviewed October 2015.

See also:

What causes conjunctivitis?

Page reference: 56536

Review key: HIHAY-56536