Hay fever hoax? 1 in 4 say people accuse them of faking allergies

LONDON — Can you really fake having seasonal allergies? One in four hay fever sufferers say people who don’t have allergies accuse them of “making it up.” The poll of 1,500 adults, who have the seasonal condition, reveals 19 percent believe those who don’t have hay fever are unsympathetic to their ailments.

In fact, 70 percent of sufferers dread the impact of hay fever, with 29 percent taking days off work because their symptoms get so bad. Meanwhile, 29 percent have also had to ditch plans with friends and family and 16 percent have even had to cancel a date because of their severe hay fever symptoms.

Among the parents polled, 52 percent have taken their kids out of school because of a flare up. Despite this, nearly four in five (79%) claim those who are fortunate enough not to have these allergies don’t think it’s a good enough reason to not show up to work or other events.

“People who don’t suffer from allergies often think the effects aren’t very serious,” says Dr. Roger Henderson, a general practitioner and spokesperson for Olbas, which commissioned the research, in a statement.

“But our research shows just what a massive impact it is having on their lifestyles – and also the inquisition they have to face as a result of missing out. As hay fever is most commonly at its worst in the spring and summer – which are times when social engagements tend to increase – many are unfortunately left with tough decisions to make,” Dr. Henderson continues.

“A simple nasal spray or decongestant can help relieve a blocked nose and reduce the impact of headaches and sinus issues, allowing you to enjoy your summer social life by day and sleep better at night.”

Man blowing his nose, sneezing outside from seasonal allergies
(© Dragana Gordic – stock.adobe.com)

What are the symptoms of hay fever?

The survey also finds that 60 percent of hay fever sufferers are contending with severe symptoms. Itchy, red, or watery eyes are the most common (68%), followed by a stuffy nose (67%) and frequent sneezing (66%). Many are also having to overcome some of the lesser-known impacts of hay fever, such as the loss of their sense of smell (22%), facial pain (19%), and earache (18%).

However, 71 percent believe there are several misconceptions associated with hay fever, with 27 percent believing the range of symptoms it can cause leads to the most confusion. Another 19 percent believe there are misunderstandings around what actually causes seasonal allergies to flare up. Unfortunately, 62 percent are then left annoyed trying to correct these common misconceptions.

The research, conducted by OnePoll, finds 77 percent have made attempts to minimize the impact of their hay fever. Of these, 76 percent take antihistamines to help combat it and 47 percent resort to simply staying indoors when the pollen count is high.

For those who do venture out, however, over one in three (35%) take a shower and change their clothes as soon as they arrive home. Three in four are taking precautions in anticipation for the arrival of hay fever season, such as closing windows at night (45%) and vacuuming their home more frequently (36%). For 85 percent, however, they feel they have just had to learn to live with their hay fever symptoms when they flare up.

“It’s fascinating to learn so many believe there is significant confusion surrounding hay fever,” says Claire Campbell from the decongestant brand Olbas. “But with the allergy having such a wide range of impacts for many of those who are suffering from it, you can start to understand why.”

South West News Service writer Oliver Lewis contributed to this report.

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