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Tips To Manage Your Hay Fever From An Early Age

cedar tree pollen in japan

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Hay Fever Impacts School Grades

I know just how miserable hay fever symptoms can be as I have suffered from a very young age. My symptoms were always most severe during exam periods. Often causing my grades to suffer as I was struck by itchy eyes, a runny nose and sneezing during exams and revision periods. 

Allergies Can Put A Downer On Outdoors Sports 

Summer sports were also a non-starter as the idea of standing on sports fields with streaming eyes and a sniffly nose was not appealing. In any case, I was unable to perform at my best as my respiratory system struggled with the symptoms. For years long summers were spent inside as I did not want to feel ill and miserable. 

Experience With Hay Fever Can Help Manage It

As I got older I had more of a handle on my symptoms and knew the time of day I would feel worse or when it would be more comfortable to play outside and say have a picnic. But I never knew why exactly. I knew different pollens like tree pollen or grass pollen existed but I knew no more detail than that. Knowing the seasons in my home country meant I could manage my hay fever with over the counter medication. However, travelling and eventually moving abroad threw everything in the air. 

Medicines To Manage Your Hay Fever From An Early Age

Hay Fever Abroad

The major issue I suffered from travelling with an Allergy was not knowing how my hay fever would react. I would travel to some countries and my symptoms would completely debilitate me, In some countries though I wouldn’t get any symptoms at all. All the while I never really knew why.

Hay Fever Symptoms in Japan

My hay fever became worse again when my family and I moved to Japan. It affected me at different times of the year and at different times of the day compared to what I had experienced in the UK. I went to a doctor in Japan to get some antihistamine medication. Apparently, it’s quite common for Gaijins (Gaijin is a Japanese word for foreigners and non-Japanese citizens in Japan) to suffer different hay fever symptoms and from completely different types of plants. The Japanese Doctor actually suggested that I get an allergy test. This had never been suggested to me in the nearly 40 years I had been getting allergy medicine from doctors in the UK. I didn’t need one, or so I thought, I have hay fever plain and simple. Except hay fever is an all-encompassing term for pollen allergy and the truth is every tree, grass and plant has different pollen.  It’s possible to be allergic to just one or several but they may be different pollens to your neighbour, or friend or family member. 

There are approximately 60 types of plants in Japan that can cause hay fever symptoms. The Japanese Cedar tree, or sugi (杉), is the biggest culprit. In the spring clouds of Ceder pollen can be seen blowing off the mountains. More than 50% of the Japanese population suffer from hay fever symptoms so they are prepared.

Cedar tree pollen in Japan causes most of the hay fever issues there. Credit: Motivist Japan

Hay Fever Allergy Test

So I had the test and was told exactly which pollens I was allergic to. This was revelatory to me. It has totally transformed how I cope with hay fever. For starters, it turns out I am highly allergic to grasses that grow next to rivers between the months of May and June. The simple bit of knowledge means a quick solution is to go walking in the hills at that time of year and as opposed to riding a bike along the river. 

Pollen Rates Change Throughout The Day 

I also found I was more allergic to pollens that were released in the evening from certain plants. Switching to going out early mornings helped ease my symptoms plus I took my one-a-day antihistamine in the evening rather than the morning which also helped significantly. An added bonus was that I got to sleep easier and slept better. I was also able to start sleeping with the window open making nights more comfortable. 

Knowledge About Hay Fever Helps Manage Symptoms

Knowing all of this information would have really improved my summers during my childhood and early adulthood. Whilst I cannot fault the care I had from the NHS during my years, if I had known a little more about my body’s allergic responses to various pollens I could have managed my symptoms better.

Home Allergy Testing Kits

I now have children who are highly likely going to have hay fever and other milder allergies. For me, once the diagnosis has been made I would go to a commercial allergy testing kit to get a little more information about exactly what they are allergic to. The test requires a small prick test to be done at home so would not be suitable for younger children. We wouldn’t recommend the kits for diagnosing the existence of allergies but they can help give you answers to what you are specifically allergic to. The Klarify home allergy test for example tests for 294 allergens, a whole range of pollens, foods, dust mites and more. If you are suffering from any sort of sneezing or skin allergies it may be that you have a mild allergic reaction to a food or animal. Klarify’s website provides a good explanation on the background about allergies.

Allergic reactions can be very very serious and life-threatening so if you have any moderate or severe symptoms you should seek medical advice immediately. These testing kits do not replace proper medical testing and diagnosis but they can give you some answers to why you might be experiencing certain symptoms. The Klarify website ( also contains interesting articles about the difference between a food allergy or intolerance, different allergy testing and tips for travelling with an allergy.


As I have recently found out there are many types of grasses and trees that cause problems. Our bodies may react differently in different countries. Getting tested helps to provide knowledge and the ability to manage symptoms more effectively. Home allergy tests are convenient, you don’t need to wait many months for doctor or hospital appointments and can provide an answer to the symptoms you have been suffering.

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