A woman blows her nose in Godewaersvelde, northern France on May 18, 2013, as the return of pleasant weather marks the arrival of allergenic pollen. / AFP/Getty

Spring is in the air - and so is plenty of pollen

The sore eyes, sneezing, the runny noses - it can only mean one thing: hay fever season is upon us.

Hay fever sufferers are already complaining of the cold-like symptoms associated with an allergic reaction to pollen.

The allergy affects one in five people in the UK and occurs when pollen particles come into contact with the mouth, nose and eyes. The immune system responds as if it is being attacked by a virus by releasing chemicals to prevent the ‘infection’ spreading.

These chemicals in turn cause the typical symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as watering eyes and a runny nose.

Hay fever remedies recommended by readers of The Independent include eating locally grown honey, drinking plenty of water and even acupuncture. Experts advise avoiding alcohol because it contains histamine, the chemical that sets off irritating symptoms, and taking over the counter remedies.



Herbalists recommend drinking nettle, butterbur and washing hair after entering the home to remove pollen attached to it.

Researchers have also developed a simple hay fever treatment they say can ease the worst symptoms without any side effects.

The majority of sufferers are allergic to grass pollen, which peaks in summer. March also marks the start of the tree pollen season.

Those who are really suffering can find out when to avoid green, pollen-friendly spaces with the Met Office’s pollen forecast.

Health worries on your mind? Click here to see your health insurance options and get a quote with AXA PPP healthcare​