Hay fever at school
Hay fever can make school life difficult for young people, particularly during the summer months and the grass pollen season (typically May- beginning of September), which affects the majority of those with hay fever.
Hay fever symptoms such as sneezing, an itchy/blocked/runny nose and itchy/inflamed/streaming eyes, can lead to disrupted sleep which impacts alertness and the ability to concentrate. The symptoms are often unpleasant and in a classroom setting, they can be extremely difficult to manage.
It is common for children with asthma to also have hay fever. If this is the case then it is important that hay fever symptoms are well managed with the correct treatments and medication, as there is an increased risk that uncontrolled hay fever may impact on asthma, exacerbating asthma symptoms and increasing the risk of an asthma attack.
Hay fever can impact all aspects of daily life and persist for months at a time and studies have shown that 40% children can actually drop a grade between mocks and final exams because of their hay fever.
Here are some tips to help your child get through the summer term:
- Use a daily non-sedating anti-histamine which come in both liquid and tablet form
- Monitor pollen forecasts which can help indicate when to start taking allergy medications and can help with planning time spent outside.
- If you do drive children to school, keep windows closed and have the air intake on re-circulate to prevent pollen exposure inside
- Ask teachers to keep windows closed to avoid to your child being exposed to pollen in their classroom
- Invest in a pair of wraparound sunglasses and a hat for your child to keep allergens out of their eyes/off of their face when they are outside
- Help your child get a good night’s sleep by keeping windows closed overnight in their bedroom. Make sure they wash their hair/face and change their clothes before they get into bed so that pollen is not transferred onto their bed sheets/pillow
- Make sure your child’s allergy medication is available throughout the day
PE and sports day can also cause a lot of worry for children living with severe hay fever and asthma which is exacerbated by hay fever.
Here are some tips to help your child’s symptoms when taking part in outside activities:
- Ask the school if some PE lessons can remain inside, in the school sports hall, when pollen counts are high
- Ask the school if they can avoid outdoor activities being scheduled early mornings and evenings, when pollen counts are higher
- Encourage your child to wear protective glasses and a hat with a peak or large brim to help keep pollens from their eyes and face
- Make sure your child has their allergy medication with them and it is accessible wherever they are exercising
- If the school has a shower room, encourage your child to take a shower after outdoor activities and before they change back into their uniform
- Give your child a separate bag for their sports clothes to contain the pollens carried on them
- If you have any concerns speak to your child’s school as they may be able to make special arrangements.
What to do if you or your child’s hay fever treatment isn’t working
If hay fever medication is not improving symptoms, consider if you or your child are taking it correctly and regularly (keeping it near to something you use or do in the morning like your tooth brush can help to remember to take it).
Don’t suffer in silence as there are many different treatment options available to help alleviate hay fever symptoms. Speaking to a pharmacist is a good place to start if the treatment you are using isn’t working.
If you are still unsure speak to your GP or healthcare professional.
To go straight to our hay fever Factsheets, including allergic eye disease, pollen/moulds and oral allergy syndrome, please click above.