Hay Fever (Allergic Rhinitis) -Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment
What is hay fever?
Hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis, is a group of symptoms caused by the reaction to allergens. Itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and other similar symptoms occur. These symptoms occur when you exposed to or breathe in a substance you are allergic to, such as dust, animal dander, or pollen. Symptoms can also occur when you eat food that you are allergic to.
Hay fever is also known as seasonal allergy.
What causes hay fever?
An overreaction of the immune system causes hay fever to the allergens in the air. An allergen is something that triggers an allergy. When a person with hay fever (allergic rhinitis) breathes in an allergen such as pollen, mold, animal dander, or dust, the body releases chemicals that cause allergy symptoms.
Hay fever and allergies often run in families. If both of your parents have hay fever or other allergies, you are likely to have hay fever and allergies, too. The chance is higher if your mother has allergies.
What are the symptoms of hay fever?
The following symptoms may occur shortly after you come into contact with the substance you are allergic to:
- Itchy nose, mouth, eyes, throat, skin, or any area
- A runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Problems with smell
The following other symptoms may show up later:
- Stuffy nose (nasal congestion)
- Clogged Ears
- Decreased sense of smell
- A sore throat
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Puffiness under the eyes
- Fatigue and irritability
How is hay fever diagnosed?
The doctor will perform a physical exam and review your symptoms. The doctor may perform allergy tests to check what substances triggered your symptoms.
One or more of the following tests may be ordered:
- Skin test (most common method of allergy testing)
- IgE RAST (radioallergosorbent test)
- Eosinophil count (blood test)
How is hay fever treated?
Treatment of hay fever consists of medicines and self-care.
Your doctor may prescribe medicines, such as antihistamines, corticosteroids, decongestants, and others depending on your symptoms and their severity.
Prescription medicines for hay fever may include:
Antihistamine medicines work well for treating allergy symptoms. These medicines are prescribed when symptoms do not happen often or do not last long. Antihistamines can be in the form of oral medications as well as nasal sprays.
Nasal corticosteroid sprays are the most effective treatment for hay fever.
Decongestants help in reducing symptoms such as nasal stuffiness.
Leukotriene inhibitors are prescription medicines that block leukotrienes. These are the chemicals the body releases in response to an allergen that also trigger symptoms.
Sometimes, your doctor may recommend allergy shots (immunotherapy) if you cannot avoid the pollen and your symptoms are hard to control. This includes regular shots of the pollen you are allergic to. Each dose is slightly larger than the dose before it until you reach the dose that helps control your symptoms. Allergy shots may help your body adjust to the pollen that is causing the reaction.
Sublingual Immunotherapy Treatment (SLIT)
Your doctor might prescribe SLIT instead of shots if grass or ragweed triggered your allergy.
The best treatment is avoiding the pollens that cause your symptoms.
For mild hay fever, you can use a saline solution to wash and remove mucus from your nose. Saline solution is available in all drug stores. You can also make the saline solution at home. Mix half a teaspoon (3 grams) of salt and a pinch of baking soda in 1 cup (240 milliliters) of warm water to make it.
This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.