Hay fever: symptoms and treatment

For pollen allergy sufferers, spring time also means hay fever time. Unfortunately, with the first warm days, teary eyes, blocked noses and sneezing attacks also wake up from hibernation. You can find everything about the diagnosis, symptoms and treatment options for hay fever here.

Hay fever is actually not, as the name suggests, an allergy to hay, but an allergic reaction to pollen, i.e. pollen. Hay fever is therefore also referred to as a pollen allergy . The immune system overreacts to those affected when they come into contact with pollen from trees, shrubs, herbs or grain. As soon as the mucous membranes of the eyes or nose come into contact with the pollen, they react.

Around 16% of the population in Germany are affected, making pollen allergy the most widespread allergy. A small consolation: The little ones are usually spared, since hay fever only occurs from the age of three or four. Nevertheless, 10 percent of small children and 20 percent of young people now suffer from a pollen allergy.

You can recognize hay fever by these symptoms

The typical symptoms of hay fever are:

  • Itchy, red, watery and swollen eyes
  • conjunctivitis
  • stuffy nose
  • Sneeze
  • headache
  • Fever
  • loss of appetite
  • exhaustion
  • malaise
Cross allergies in hay fever?

Hay fever sufferers often have an allergic reaction to food. Food contains certain protein structures, which are also found in allergy-causing pollen. Today, these so-called cross-allergies are the most common cause of food intolerance. The so-called birch pollen-nut-fruit syndrome is very common. For example, birch pollen and apple have a similar biochemical structure. Therefore, a bite into the apple in allergy sufferers often leads to the same reaction as in contact with birch pollen.

Test for hay fever

As soon as there is a suspicion that your child is suffering from a pollen allergy, an allergist should be consulted  as soon as possible  . This first collects a so-called anamnesis – i.e. a systematic survey. This should record the patient’s current symptoms, medical history, special dispositions, living conditions and genetic risk. That means he asks you and your child in detail about his  symptoms . If these occur at the same time every year, the condition worsens in windy weather and from 8 a.m. to noon, the eyes itch, and your child feels better on rainy days, a pollen allergy is suspected. Appropriate tests are carried out after this step.

  • Prick test: In the so-called prick test, the doctor drips a liquid onto your forearm. This contains pollen extracts. He then pricks the skin under the drop with a needle to cause a skin reaction. After just 15 to 20 minutes, he can then determine whether you are allergic to certain pollen.
  • Patch test: During the patch test, the doctor drips a substance that triggers a pollen allergy onto a patch, which he then sticks on your back. After two days, he examines whether typical symptoms appear on the treated part of the body.
  • Blood test: For the blood test, a small amount of blood is taken from you and tested for antibodies against certain substances.
  • Provocation test: In this hay fever test, allergy-causing substances are applied directly to the nasal or oral mucosa. The doctor can see the reaction immediately. Because this test can cause a strong reaction, it should only be performed under medical supervision.

treatment of hay fever

Basically, doctors advise people with hay fever to stay away from the allergy-causing bee pollen. However, this is difficult to implement because pollen is carried up to 300 kilometers by the wind – so it flies everywhere. However, the following methods help to relieve the acute symptoms:

  • Medicines: Drugs with active ingredients such as cromoglicic acid, ketotifen, antihistamines and cortisone have proven effective in the treatment of hay fever.
  • Creams: In order to curb the absorption of pollen when inhaling, it is helpful if you cream your nasal mucosa with Vaseline or a special nasal ointment with the ingredient dexpanthenol.
  • Other therapies: Specific immunotherapy, also known as hyposensitization, has proven to be an effective method of combating the causes and not just the symptoms of hay fever. During the treatment, you will be given a low-dose substance over several years that triggers the allergy. The aim is for your body to get used to the allergen and for the symptoms to disappear in the long term.
Pollen count calendar

If you suffer from hay fever, you should always find out when and where the respective pollen count is strongest. With the help of our pollen flight calendar you can easily get an overview.

What can you do yourself against hay fever?

  • A lot of exercise prevents:  Studies have shown that children who exercise a lot get hay fever 50% less than children who rarely exercise. Why don’t you take your child on a bike trip or sign them up for a sports club?
  • Avoid endangered areas:  Find out about the pollen count on the Internet, in the daily newspaper or on the radio. Try to avoid the vulnerable areas.
  • Limit outdoor activities:  Make sure that your child spends as little time outdoors as possible with an existing illness or does not exert himself too much outdoors, as more pollen gets into the airways due to more vigorous breathing.
  • Ventilate:  If you live in the country, you should ventilate in the evening as the pollen concentration is lower here. If you live in the city, it’s exactly the opposite: The best time to ventilate here is in the morning.
  • Only drive with the car windows closed:  Your car should have a pollen filter in the ventilation system. It is best to drive with the windows closed.
  • Room hygiene is very important: it is  best to wipe with a damp cloth several times a week and use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Change this at least every 14 days.
  • Daily hygiene:  Wash your child’s hair every evening if possible, and don’t change their street clothes in the bedroom. So you can be sure that your child is not exposed to the pollen in his room.
  • Drying laundry:  Only hang your child’s laundry to dry indoors. So it cannot catch any pollen floating in the air.
  • The bed:  Buy special allergy-free mattresses, blankets and pillows. You should inform yourself better when buying, the quality of the covers offered is not always the same. According to Stiftung Warentest, some even got the grade “poor”.
  • Your child’s room:  Avoid dust collectors in your child’s room and put pollen filters in front of the windows.
  • Rinsing the nose relieves the symptoms:  Rinsing the nose with salt water soothes the mucous membranes. To do this, dissolve a teaspoon of table salt in lukewarm water and let your child sniff the solution. This rinses out the pollen, disinfects the nasal mucosa and strengthens it against pollen.
  • Steam inhalation lets your child breathe properly again:  Inhalation with dill or fennel oil makes sense for congested bronchi. To do this, add four to six drops of oil to three liters of boiling water and let your child inhale the vapors through their mouth and nose for ten minutes.
  • A healthy diet is important: A diet  rich in vitamins is important, especially vitamin C. Put peppers, tomatoes and citrus fruits on your child’s menu to strengthen their immune system. A lot of liquid is also important, so make sure that the mineral water has a high magnesium content.
  • Be careful with fruit and vegetables:  many people who are allergic to pollen develop a cross-allergy to botanically related foods.
  • Garden maintenance:  If you have a garden, keep the lawn as short as possible. This will prevent it from flowering and producing pollen. People who are allergic to pollen should not mow the lawn themselves, as the plant sap contains allergens similar to pollen.
  • No smoke:  Make sure your child grows up in a smoke-free environment. This is how you protect your airways.
  • No honey:  Your child should avoid honey as it contains a large amount of pollen.
  • Staying outdoors:  It is better to take your child for a walk in deciduous than in coniferous forests, as the leaves filter some of the pollen from the air. Avoid busy roads during the pollen season, as the pollen mixed with exhaust fumes and soot particles are more aggressive.
  • Special creams provide relief for your child:  rub Vaseline or nasal ointment with the active ingredient dexpanthenol into the nasal mucosa every day to reduce the intake of pollen in the air you breathe.

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