Hay fever myths: confirmed or denied

29 April 2014

Summer is on its way and it's allergy awareness week this week, so Spire Harpenden Hospital and Professor Richard Powell wanted to discuss the symptoms of hay fever and dispels some of the myths about treatment.

What is hay fever?

Allergic rhinitis is commonly known as hay fever is the most common allergy in the UK.  It affects around 10 million people in the UK and its symptoms can be debilitating for many sufferers.

“Hay fever” is caused by pollen, which is released by plants during their reproductive cycle. The proteins in pollen cause inflammation in pollen allergic individuals leading to swelling of the lining nose, eyes, throat and sinuses.

What are the symptoms of hay fever?

Symptoms include seasonal sneezing, nasal blocking, a runny itchy nose, itchy red swollen eyes and even itching of the ears and throat. Some sufferers also develop wheezing (asthma).

If your symptoms start in the spring, they are probably caused by tree pollens; if they are worst between May and July then you are likely to be allergic to grass pollen.

Hay fever myths: confirmed or denied with consultant Professor Richard Powell:




Eating local honey everyday stops hay fever 

Limited benefit, it a form of pollen exposure

Continuous exposure to the source of allergy can reduce symptoms 


Eliminating wheat and milk helps asthma and hay fever 


Children grow out of hay fever

Confirmed, but typically not until their 40’s

Adults don’t develop hay fever


Flowering plants cause hay fever 


Ground up bark from a gum tree can help 
(source -


Butterbur (herbal remedy) can help


Taking Garlic can help with allergies


Aromatherapy can be used to help the symptoms


Drying washing indoors and washing your hair at night helps



How do I get a diagnosis?

To identify the particular trigger for the allergy, a consultation involving a detailed history with allergy skin prick testing is essential.

A skin prick test involves a small scratch to the skin with the suspected allergen, and the results of the test are available during the consultation. Specialist advice on the choice of antihistamine, nasal sprays and eye drops is also given. Oral pollen desensitisation is available at Spire Harpenden Hospital for individuals with severe symptoms.

Professor Richard Powell, an allergy specialist, works at Spire Harpenden testing and treating for a variety of different allergies.

If you would like allergy advise appointments can be made to see Professor Richard Powell at Spire Harpenden Hospital by calling 0800 585 112.

If you do not have private medical insurance and would like a quote for consultation please call 01582 714420 or email

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