Do different types of hay fever present at different times of the year?

Hay fever affects around 1 in 5 people in the UK. Symptoms of it can include a runny, stuffy nose, itchy eyes and even headaches. With so many uncomfortable symptoms, it’s not surprising that people struggle during the peak hay fever season.

Do different types of hay fever present at different times of the year?

Hay fever affects around 1 in 5 people in the UK. Symptoms of it can include a runny, stuffy nose, itchy eyes and even headaches. With so many uncomfortable symptoms, it’s not surprising that people struggle during the peak hay fever season.

Treating hay fever can be hard to remedy, partially because there are different types. This means that treatment may often need to be tailored to the individual — so not all over-the-counter medications will work for your specific type of hay fever.

This blog post is going to delve into the causes of hay fever, how it is treated and the different types of hay fever that develop during the year, so you can effectively manage frustrating  symptoms.

What causes hay fever?

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is a common allergic reaction to pollen or other airborne allergens. It can be particularly problematic during the spring and summer months when pollen counts are high.

The symptoms of hay fever can vary from person to person, but can include:

  • Sneezing
  • A runny or blocked nose
  • Itchy and watery eyes
  • An itchy throat and ears
  • A general feeling of tiredness or fatigue

In more severe cases, hay fever can also lead to a persistent cough, wheezing and difficulty breathing

The main cause of hay fever is the body's immune system reacting to pollen or other allergens in the air. This triggers an inflammatory response, causing the symptoms of hay fever.

Certain factors can increase the likelihood of developing hay fever, such as:

  • Having a family history of allergies
  • Being exposed to high levels of pollen
  • Living in an urban area with high levels of pollution

Common hay fever triggers are pollen from trees, grasses and weeds. Other airborne allergens, such as dust mites, animal dander and mould spores, can also trigger symptoms in some people.

How is hay fever different from other respiratory conditions?

One of the key ways that hay fever differs from other respiratory conditions is that it is caused by an allergic reaction, rather than an infection. This means that hay fever is not contagious, and cannot be passed from person to person like a cold or flu.

When is hay fever season?

In the UK, hay fever season starts in late March and ends in September, which is when different types of pollen are most prevalent.

  • Tree pollen is the first type of pollen to be released, usually starting in late March and continuing until mid-May.
  • Grass pollen,the most common cause of hay fever symptoms, has a season starting in mid-May and lasting until July.
  • Weeds, such as nettle and dock, usually produce pollen from June to September, with a peak period in late summer.

The start and end of hay fever season can be influenced by a number of factors, including temperature, rainfall and wind conditions. For example, warmer and drier weather can result in a higher pollen count, while rain and wind can help to clear pollen from the air.

It is worth noting that the severity of hay fever symptoms can also vary from year to year, depending on the weather conditions during the pollen season. For example, if there is a wet spring, this can lead to a lower pollen count, whereas a dry and warm spring can result in a higher pollen count and more severe symptoms.

Factors that affect hay fever timing

Geography, climate, air pollution and other factors can play a role in hay fever timing and the severity of your symptoms.

  • Geography: hay fever season can start later and can be shorter in the north of the UK, which can impact when hay fever hits you. Living by the coast can decrease the chances of developing hay fever due to higher winds and a lower pollen count. People that live in the countryside may experience symptoms more often as they are exposed to allergens on a daily basis, while living in the city could decrease your hay fever symptoms as there is less vegetation to produce pollen.
  • Climate: temperature and rainfall can affect the beginning and intensity of the pollen season. Warm and dry weather can lead to a higher pollen count, whereas rain can reduce pollen levels in the air.
  • Air pollution: pollutants can interact with pollen, resulting in more severe hay fever symptoms at different times of the year.

In addition, your genetics and immune system function can play a role in hay fever timing. Some people may be more genetically predisposed to developing allergies, while others may have a weakened immune system due to other health conditions, making them more susceptible to hay fever symptoms.

Can you get hay fever at any time?

While it might only seem logical that you would develop hay fever during the spring and summer months, it can appear at any time of the year.

For some people, symptoms may occur all year round

Types of hay fever

There are two types of hay fever: seasonal and perennial. Both need a different approach when it comes to treatment and avoiding triggers.

Seasonal hay fever

Seasonal hay fever, also known as seasonal rhinitis or allergic rhinitis, is an allergic reaction to airborne substances — specifically pollens — and the type that most people have heard of. This type of hay fever will most often occur during the spring and summer months when these allergens are at their peak.

The symptoms of seasonal hay fever can feel similar to a cold — sneezing, a runny nose and an itchy throat. Seasonal hay fever can be worse in those that suffer from asthma.

Perennial hay fever

Perennial hay fever, or perennial allergic rhinitis, is an allergic reaction to allergens that are present in the environment throughout the year. These allergens can include dust mites, pet dander and mould spores, and are typically found indoors. Dust mites are the most common trigger for perennial hay fever, and they are found in mattresses, pillows, carpets, and upholstered furniture.

Perennial hay fever symptoms are very similar to seasonal hay fever symptoms. In some cases, perennial hay fever can also cause coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing, which can be more severe in people with asthma.

Perennial hay fever can be managed through a combination of allergen avoidance and medication.

Hay fever diagnosis and treatment

Hay fever can be diagnosed through a combination of reviewing your medical history, a physical examination and diagnostic tests. The most common diagnostic tests are skin prick tests and blood tests.

Skin prick tests involve exposing the skin to small amounts of specific allergens to see if a reaction occurs. Allergy blood tests measure the level of allergen-specific antibodies in the blood.

Once diagnosed, hay fever symptoms can be managed through various treatment options.

Avoiding triggers like pollen or indoor allergens through certain lifestyle changes can help manage hay fever and reduce or prevent symptoms:

  • Keeping windows closed during high pollen count days
  • Wearing wrap-around sunglasses to protect the eyes
  • Regularly washing your hands and clothes, and taking a shower after being outside

If you suffer from perennial hay fever, avoiding allergens by using allergen-proof covers on mattresses and pillows, regularly washing bedding and stuffed animals, and vacuuming with a HEPA filter can help reduce exposure.

These prevention tips can all be effective in reducing exposure to allergens that cause hay fever symptoms.

Hay fever treatment

Over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids and decongestants are often effective in relieving hay fever symptoms. In more severe cases, prescription medications and immunotherapy may be necessary.

Immunotherapy, also known as desensitisation therapy, involves regular injections of small amounts of allergens over a period of time. This can help to train the immune system to stop reacting to the allergen and reduce the severity of symptoms.

Immunotherapy can only be prescribed by a specialist Allergist or Immunologist and should be given after the hay fever season.


If you’re suffering from hay fever, whether seasonal or perennial, our expert allergy team at OneWelbeck can help. We will be happy to discuss your hay fever symptoms and look at how we can help you manage your symptoms with the right treatment for you.

Book a consultation with OneWelbeck today and discover how you can manage and treat your hay fever — no matter which type you have, we can help.

Do different types of hay fever
present at different times of the year?

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Here at OneWelbeck, we have a team of exemplary allergy specialists, state of the art facilities and diagnostics, and highly competitive financial packages for self-funding patients as well as those with private health care.

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