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How symptoms may affect mental health, from loneliness to low mood

Hayfever doesn’t just give you sneezing fits, itchy eyes and a runny nose but can affect your mental health as well, a survey finds.

A third of hay fever sufferers suffer from mental health issues, as they see friends and family less, leading to loneliness.

They also spend less time outdoors on sunny days, according to the survey, which is linked to poorer mental health.

A quarter of sufferers reported intermittent low moods and 39 per cent reduced motivation as a result of their symptoms.

Research firm 3GEM surveyed 1,600 UK adults who have taken tablets or another form of medication for their allergy in the past year for Clarityn, the allergy tablet brand.

The research found that a third of hay fever sufferers in the UK can’t see their friends and family due to symptoms, while 41 per cent say symptoms can be ‘debilitating’.

Some 32 per cent say their symptoms can stop them from leaving the house.

Itchy eyes, runny nose and coughing are all very familiar symptoms of hayfever with sneezing being the most common for 81 per cent of UK hay fever sufferers, according to the survey.

But less commonly associated with hayfever is the impact it can have to the mental health of sufferers, the research found.

Hayfever symptoms “can cause a snowball of negative effects to the social life of sufferers causing loneliness in one in three hay fever sufferers who say they can’t see their friends and families due to the severity of their symptoms,” the report finds.

Professor Adam Fox, President of the British Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology who runs the Allergy London practice in London, says that while hayfever can be highly debilitating there are things that can be done to help relieve the symptoms.

“If you know you have symptoms every year, then it makes sense to be prepared in advance. If you require a nasal spray, then starting to use it before the season starts will make it much more effective. For adults, these can be brought over the counter whilst children will need a prescription.”

“You can also use an antihistamine but make sure it’s the right one – a long-acting, non-sedating one. Pollen balms such as petroleum jelly rubbed around the rim of the nostrils can help trap pollen before it enters the nose and salt water nasal sprays help rinse pollen particles out of the nose, preventing them from sitting in there and causing more symptoms,” he said.

The survey comes as millions of Britons suffer particularly bad symptoms as a result of an unusually big “pollen bomb” which is making this year’s hayfever season one of the worst on record.

This bomb is the result of a perfect storm of conditions – from last summer to the present day – combined with every-other-year seasonal cycles and climate change, scientists say.

And it means that this hay fever season is likely to be “one of the worst seasons for birch pollen on record ..[and] the severest we have had in recent years”, warns Beverley Adams-Groom, a pollen forecaster from Worcester University.

Hayfever sufferers could be in for some respite this week, however, with Met Office forecasting low levels of pollen around the UK.

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