Now that spring is here, it brings with warmer weather, pollen and hayfever. Hayfever isn’t the only type of allergy you might experience. There are many different types of allergies, including food, pet and indoor allergies.
According to the NHS*, allergies are very common and are though to affect more than 1 in 4 people in the UK. Here’s the difference between the types of allergies you might experience.
What is hayfever?
Hayfever, also known as seasonal rhinitis, is a reaction to pollen from grass, tress and weeds during spring and summer. According to Allergy UK** grass pollen is the most common pollen people are allergic to and it is most prevalent around May to June. Tree pollen is around February to June and weed pollen is around from June to September. Symptoms to look out for include:
- Itchy eyes/throat
- Sneezing or a blocked runny nose
- Watering, red eyes
- Headaches, blocked sinuses
- Shortness of breath
You might notice your symptoms become more sever when the pollen count is high. You can keep an eye on the pollen count on the Met Office.
A food allergy is when your body mistakenly makes an antibody to fight off a specific food, this triggers an immune system response and the release of histamine and other substances in the body. These can cause various symptoms, depending on where in they body they are released. According to Allergy UK*** the symptoms will usually appear within a few minutes of eating the food you’re allergic to, but they can appear within a few hours. You might experience:
- Abdominal pain
- Swelling (rash)
- Runny nose or sneezing
You can be allergic to any food, but Allergy UK*** suggests some of the most common food allergies are celery, cereals containing gluten, crustaceans and eggs. Find out the other top 14 here.
What’s the difference between a food allergy and an intolerance?
According to Allergy UK** a food allergy is quite uncommon and normally causes symptoms within a few minutes, where as a food intolerance is more common and the symptoms appear slower. Some common intolerances are lactose intolerance and gluten intolerance.
Pets and indoor allergies
There are many things in and around our homes that we could be allergic to, including dust mites, mould, dust from dead skin flakes or pets. Dust mites benefit from warmth and humidity meaning they become more common in the spring and summer months. According to the NHS* it’s not the pet fur that causes an allergic reaction, instead it’s flakes of their dead skin, saliva and dried urine. There are a couple of ways you can try to minimise your reaction to your pets, including:
- Washing pets at least once a week
- Regularly grooming pets outside
- Regularly washing all bedding and soft furnishings pets lie on
- Using an air filter in rooms where you spend most of your time
- Increasing ventilation with fans, air conditioning or opening windows
Treating your allergies:
In most cases, the best way to manage your allergy is to avoid it. For allergies you can’t avoid, there are over the counter medications that can help relieve your symptoms. This include antihistamines, decongestants, lotions and creams and steroid medications.