Hay fever season: Will you suffer abroad?

hay fever abroad

Moving abroad could affect your hay fever.

It’s the time of year when the pollen starts to fall and eyes start to itch. If you have never suffered from hay fever before that may change when you move abroad. Various types of pollen are more prevalent in different areas and can affect people differently.

There are around 15 million hay fever sufferers in the UK – most are allergic to grass pollen but about 4 million are affected by tree pollen. Due to the mild winter in much of Europe, trees are pollinating early this year, meaning millions of sufferers are feeling the effects now.

In the South and Midwest USA pollen counts have reached record highs and sufferers are feeling the effects. Knoxville, Tennessee is seen by scientists to be the worst place affected by hay fever, based on pollen counts and sales of hay fever medication.

If you move region or country you can find your symptoms increase or become less noticeable. This is because different types of pollens affect different people. For instance, in the Tokyo area many people are allergic to the Japanese Cedar which pollinates from late February to early April. Moving to a new country could be a blessing, or a curse.

Hay fever symptoms

The symptoms of hay fever are commonly:

  • Itchy, red or swollen eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, running or blocked nose
  • Headaches
  • Tightness in the chest/throat

Treatment for hay fever

Hay fever is generally treated in one of two ways. If just one particular area is affected, such as the eyes, treatment can be local. The use of eye-drops for itchy eyes or nasal sprays containing antihistamines for when the nose is affected is a quick way to treat mild symptoms.

For a range of symptoms that affect different areas an oral antihistamine is recommended. Antihistamines such as acrivastine, cetirizine, loratadine or chlorphenamine can be taken in a tablet or syrup.

Make sure if you’re travelling abroad you know the generic name of the antihistamine you usually take. This will make it easier to ask for in the pharmacy, if in doubt try to take a good supply of the drug that works best for you.

Hay fever abroad

France – The West Coast is better for hay fever sufferers as the pollen count is generally low. Inland areas, especially the south, have a lot of vegetation and pollen counts can be very high.

Spain – Andalucia and central regions have high olive pollen counts. Grass pollen decreases in mid July in Northern Spain and the Costa Brava. Usually coastal areas have lower pollen counts.

Italy – Avoid Naples during hay fever season as the pollen count is high in May and June. The best places for hay fever sufferers are the Northern Lakes and the West Coast.

Generally areas by the sea have lower pollen counts than those inland. With dry, arid countries, lacking in vegetation, the pollen count is very low and sufferers may see their symptoms disappear completely.

For more information on keeping your family healthy abroad visit ExpatFamilyHealth.com for advice on vaccinations, allergies and nutrition abroad.

Bryony Ashcroft says:

Thanks for the tip Julia, I might check it out as my hay fever seems to be kicking in now. I live in Madrid now, I don’t think the pollen is too bad here, but the pollution doesn’t help!

Julia Ashcroft says:

Honey never worked for me. When i was pregnant i came across a drug-free balm called Haymax. I have never looked back. It does the job, is easy to use and has no side effects. Amazing for something so simple. I had tried lots of things – with and without drugs and nothing had worked before. Thank goodness I found it.

Jane Harvey says:

Bryony, I’ve heard the olive oil tip as well. Supposed to great fro hair and skin. Where abouts in Spain do you live? I have an Aunt in Alicante and my Father lives in Post Andraxt Majorca

Bryony Ashcroft says:

I’ve also heard the same thing! I eat honey in Spain and don’t seem to suffer with hay fever as much here as I did in the UK. I never used to like honey, but I am glad the taste has grown on me. My Italian students swore by having spoonful of olive oil everyday for digestion, but also hay fever so perhaps this option is good olive pollen allergies.

Jane Harvey says:

Hay fever can be prevented by eating local Honey. Maybe have honey on toast as soon as you get abroad? I love Summer but hate the hayfever.

Thanks for the share,