Can hay fever cause a cough? How to know if you have a pollen allergy and ways to treat it

YOU'VE been all bunged up and watery-eyed for the past month. So far, so standard for hay fever sufferers.

But then you start to develop a tickly cough.

Can that possibly be down to hay fever too? Or have you just developed a cold on top of your itchy misery?

Well it turns out that you can have a cough as part of your cluster of hay fever symptoms.

What causes a hay fever cough?

It's really just caused by the same things that set off all your other symptoms.

Allergens set off a chain reaction after they get into your system, and a hay fever cough is caused by a postnasal drip.

That drip happens when pollen irritates the lining of your nose – triggering your nasal passages to produce mucus.

Mucus is more watery when you're not actually ill, and that water then trickles down the throat – causing you to try to cough it out.

So if you're outdoors quite a bit, you might find that you're dealing with a tickly cough.

And it can get worse at night.

During the day, you're standing up so that the water is running downwards. At night, however, you're lying on your back and the mucus is stuck pooled in your throat.

How to know if its hay fever

As we say, the mucus you have when you're sick tends to be thick, thanks to the presence of a bacteria or virus.

Hay fever, however, doesn't really affect the consistency of your gunk because its a reaction rather than a bug.

If you've got thin, watery stuff rather than thick, hard-to-cough-up mucus, it's probably an allergy.

We previously revealed how to tell if you've got hay fever or a summer cold.

Hay fever and colds are easy to confuse because they share the clinical category of rhinitis, which means irritation and inflammation of the nasal cavity.

The mechanisms share some similarities too, but there are some key differences in symptoms – notably, itchiness and the colour of your snot.

Yellowy green mucus is symptomatic of a cold, while hay fever snot tends to be clear.

How to treat it

There's nothing worse than an irritating, tickly cough and in this instance, your best bet is to beat that pesky post-nasal trip.

The rules are the same with coughs as with other hay fever symptoms.

1. Avoid pollen

The most effective way to control hay fever is to avoid exposure to pollen.

But this is easier said than done – especially during the summer months when you want to spend more time outdoors.

Allergy UK say the best way to do this is to keep windows and doors closed when inside – especially early in the morning and evening when the pollen count is highest.

They also advise avoiding peak pollen times and wearing wraparound sunglasses and a hat to prevent pollen getting onto the face and in the eyes.

You should also avoid drying clothes on an outdoor washing line and shower when you get indoors to remove pollen from your skin and hair.

2. Antihistamines

Antihistamines treat hay fever by blocking the action of the chemical histamine, which the body releases when it thinks it's under attack from an allergen. This stops the symptoms of the allergic reaction.

Antihistamines are usually effective at treating itching, sneezing and watery eyes, but they may not help with clearing a blocked nose.

They're available in tablet form and also as nasal sprays and eye drops.

3. Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids (steroids) are used to treat hay fever because they have an anti-inflammatory effect.

When pollen triggers your allergic reaction, the inside of your nose becomes inflamed.

3. Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids (steroids) are used to treat hay fever because they have an anti-inflammatory effect.

When pollen triggers your allergic reaction, the inside of your nose becomes inflamed.

Corticosteroids can reduce inflammation and prevent the symptoms of hay fever.

They are better at preventing and relieving nasal symptoms including sneezing and congestion.

For those requiring rapid short-term relief from severe symptoms, for example if you have an exam or driving test, a GP may prescribe a course of tablets.

4. Nasal sprays and eye drops

Nasal decongestants, in the form of a spray, can reduce the swelling in the blood vessels in your nose, which opens your nasal passage and makes breathing easier.

Eye drops can treat red, itchy and watery eyes as they usually contain antihistamine to reduce the inflammation.

Both nasal sprays and eye drops are available from a pharmacist.

5. Natural remedies

Many people are turning towards natural remedies rather than conventional medicine to alleviate symptoms.

Some try inhaling steam to clear congestion while others suggest drinking nettle tea – an anti-inflammatory.

Make your own saline nose stray to wash out the extra mucus and reduce your cough symptoms.

According to Healthline, all you need is:

  • Add a cup of water to a clean bowl or basin
  • Add 1/8 teaspoon of table salt
  • Soak a clean washcloth in the basin
  • Without wringing out the washcloth, lift it up to your nostril and inhale to take in the saline solution. You can repeat this about three times per day

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