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Hayfever can affect exam performance, experts warn

Friday July 30th, 2010

Experts are suggesting that students with hayfever are given extra consideration during exams.

Dr Victoria Hammersley and her team at Edinburgh University, UK, say: "Examination boards have recognised that some health problems [such as dyslexia] can impact on a student's ability to perform in examinations and in response have introduced measures to take account of this.

"However, this is not yet generally the case in relation to students with hayfever."

They are concerned because important exams often take place during May and June when grass pollen counts are at their highest. In addition, tree pollens tend to peak from late February to the middle of May, when students are likely to be revising.

"Hayfever thus has the potential to disrupt students both when revising for and sitting examinations, which has led some quarters to call for the timing of examinations to be changed," they write in the journal Expert Review of Respiratory Medicine.

The authors looked at the evidence that poorly-controlled hayfever adversely affects performance. They report that "uncontrolled allergic rhinitis can significantly reduce quality of life and interfere with attendance through school absences".

But they add: "We also now know that it should be possible to achieve good symptom control with relatively simple medication regimens in the vast majority of young people."

Delivering optimal care should be the top priority, they believe, however "in those with resistant disease, there is also the need to consider hayfever as a mitigating factor".

They also suggest it would make sense to review the timing of examinations "with a view to, if possible, moving these to the winter months".

Hammersley, V., Walker, S. and Sheikh, A. Is it unfair to hayfever sufferers to have to sit examinations during periods of high pollen counts? Expert Review of Respiratory Medicine, Vol. 4, August 2010, Vol. 4, pp. 421-25.

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | UK News

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