Sharjah: Around a third of children in the UAE are affected by hay fever, according to a Sharjah hospital, and the number is on the rise.

Hay fever, formally known as Allergic Rhinitis, is triggered by allergies that lead to inflammation in the nose. It affects between 10 to 20 per cent of the population worldwide.

Symptoms include sneezing, a runny or stuffy nose, and itchy, swollen eyes.

Recent studies at University Hospital Sharjah report that more than 60 per cent of the children referred to the clinic had hay fever.

Allergic Rhinitis can be detected through blood tests, according to Dr Hanan Al Sharif, the hospital’s consultant paediatrician.

Sufferers and their guardians are then advised on how to avoid hay fever. These include “simple measures such as purchasing an anti-allergy mattress, washing bed linens at 60 degrees centigrade or higher, and reducing the number of soft toys in their bedroom,” Al Sharif said.

“For children who have a special soft toy they cannot be separated from, we suggest placing it in the freezer compartment of a fridge for six hours and returning it to the child when thawed.”

Calling for parents to be more aware of hay fever’s potential signs, the doctor said that a proper diagnosis, via allergy testing and treatment, are a must.

If uncontrolled, hay fever can reduce sleep quality, lead to poor concentration and lower school attendance.

Environmental factors including tobacco smoke, pollution and infections can contribute to hay fever. Exposure to allergens can also trigger symptoms. Common allergens include dust mites, grass and tree pollens, dander from animals such as cats, dogs, and horses, and mould usually found in bathrooms, kitchens, and soil.