Middle aged and suffering hay fever for the first time? Our damp summer has yielded a bumper crop of grass which is of delight for some but for others who are suffering from hay fever for the first time, the question is why? Age is no protector against the onset of irritation caused by a constantly running nose, itchy eyes and scratchy throat unfortunately.
Approximately 26 per cent of the adult population (12million people) suffer from allergic rhinitis, a term which covers all sorts of reactions to allergens, including hay fever. A third of this figure are people aged between 45 and 65 according to Datamonitor Healthcare.
In answer to why … There is one theory that as we age our immune system shows signs of wear and tear and begins to malfunction. Another is that this age group are the first of the baby boomers to come through the system and have had mass inoculation, the NHS, antibiotics, and homes that are hygienic and sanitised so their immune systems are not being occupied. In turn they are reacting to compounds that don’t pose a threat as they don’t have anything else to fight. And lastly, there have been a lot of new species of plant being introduced to the UK, such as Ragweed from the US, whichhave higher allergen content.
Dr Seneviratne, a consultant in clinical immunology and allergy at The Royal Free Hospital in London, says: “There are so many variables. Maybe next year the weather will create a different growth pattern for grass and trees; perhaps your immune system will be stronger. The body is not a computer that always behaves in the expected way. So if you are Middle aged and suffering hay fever for the first time, just because you had a bad year, it doesn’t mean you’ll suffer next year”.