The impact of hay fever for many students taking exams really cannot be ignored. The peak onset of hayfever happens during adolescence. As many as 63% of students taking exams surveyed by a 2006 survey reported hayfever symptoms. (Survey commissioned by the charity Education for Health).
The study found that students with hayfever were 40% more likely to drop a grade between their mock and final exams and those taking antihistamines were 70% more likely to drop a grade. Students with severe hayfever and a history of symptoms in previous years were twice as likely to drop a grade.
More than 1,800 students aged 15 to 17 were surveyed, all of whom were taking GCSE’s. A total of 28% of students surveyed who were taking medication were using a sedating antihistamine.
The authors of the study recommended that moving the timings of examinations, so as not to be held during the peak hayfever season, be considered.
Hayfever during exams also affects thousands of University students each Summer.
Researchers said old-generation sedating antihistamines have been found to have adverse effects on attention span, working memory, vigilance and speed, as well as higher levels of fatigue and lower levels of motivation and activity. Disturbed sleep could also have a knock on effect the next day.
The following may help to limit your pollen exposure during the exam period:
- Wear clean clothes on the day of your exam rather than clothes that could contain pollen particles.
- Dry your school uniform inside rather than on a clothes line outside where pollen could be caught in the fabric.
- Change your bedding often or vacuum it daily to clear the pollen.
- Tie your hair up and wear a hat outdoors to prevent pollen from getting caught in hair.
- Shower at night before sleeping to remove pollen from the hair and body.
- Place an air filter into your bedroom to trap the pollen and improve sleep quality.
- Wear wrap around sunglasses on your journey to school to prevent pollen particles from causing itchiness around the eyes.
- Stay hydrated to relieve any hay fever symptoms.
- Get plenty of exercise, a light jog before an exam could improve concentration.
- Avoiding touching your pet may also help as pollen may be stuck to their hair.
There’s plenty more information in our Allergy Guide panel below, or at allergyuk.org.