Hay fever or allergic rhinitis is a common condition and has symptoms similar to those of the common cold.
It is due to an allergic response to airborne substances, like pollen.
It may also be due to dust mites, or tiny fleck of skin and saliva that your cat, dog or other animals with fur or feathers sheds.
However, the time of the year around which this happens to you depends on the substance or allergen you may react to.
Hay fever does not mean that you develop an allergy to hay and get a fever.
Hay is hardly an allergen and fever is not a symptom.
Besides making you miserable, hay fever can affect your daily performance and interfere with life.
However, you can learn about the triggers and avoid them when you learn about them.
This article sums up the triggers, causes, symptoms, and more about haye fever.
Keep on reading to learn more about it.
Triggers of Hay Fever
Your symptoms may vary depending on the time of the year, where you live, and what type of allergies you suffer from.
Knowing all these factors can help you prepare.
For instance, early springtime often affects individuals with seasonal allergies, however, nature blooms at different times of the year.
Tree pollen is common in the spring and grass pollen is common in late spring and summer.
Moreover, ragweed pollen is common in the fall and pollen allergies can worse during hot or dry days.
This is because of the wind that carries them from one place to another.
However, if you have hay fever, then the symptoms may appear all year round even if you are allergic to indoor allergens.
Indoor allergens are dust mites, pet dander, cockroaches, mold, and fungal spores.
In some cases, the symptoms may appear with seasons.
If you are allergic to mold, then the symptoms may worsen during warmer or more humid weather conditions.
Learn more about skin allergies here.
Causes of Hay Faver
Hay fever occurs when your immune system mistakes a harmless foreign body or an airborne substance for a threat.
Your body produces an antibody, immunoglobulin E, IgE to attack the threat.
It releases a chemical Histamine in response and this chemical causes symptoms.
However, if you have seasonal hay fever, then the trigger may include pollen and spores that only cause symptoms at a particular time of the year.
Triggers are tree pollen, grass pollen, weed pollen, fungi, and spores as mentioned above.
However, irritants that lead to symptoms of hay fever are cigarette smoke, perfumes, and diesel exhaust fumes.
Moreover, the likelihood of developing allergies is also genetic.
Accroding to a study, if parents have allergy-related diseases, then it increases the chances of their children developing hay fever.
Asthma and eczema that are not allergy-related do not affect your risk factors for developing hay fever.
Learn more about ways to boost your immune system.
Symptoms of Hay Fever
Symptoms can start at different times of the year and usually depends on the substance you are allergic to.
If you are allergic to common pollen, then you may have severe symptoms when the concentration of pollen increases in the air.
Common symptoms include sneezing, watery eyes, an itchy throat, and a runny nose.
However, severe symptoms are sweats, headaches, loss of smell and taste.
You may also experience facial pain due to sinus blockage and itching sensations that spread from your throat to the nose and ears.
In some cases, people often experience tiredness, fatigue, irritability, and insomnia.
However, if you are suffering from asthma, then you experience more wheezing and breathlessness at times when the symptoms are common.
Symptoms in Infants and Children
Hay fever is common among children, although they rarely develop the symptoms before they turn 3.
However, it is important to treat allergy symptoms, especially in infants and young children.
In case of a severe condition, it can develop into long-term conditions like asthma, sinusitis, or chronic ear infection.
According to recent studies, genetics may indicate whether your child will develop asthma or not.
Young children may have trouble dealing with hay fever and can affect their concentration and sleeping patterns.
You might confuse the symptoms with that of the common cold, however, your child will not have a fever.
They might have a cold and the symptoms will persists for a few weeks.
Long Term Symptoms
Symptoms like fatigue, sore throat, headaches, puffy eye, etc are long-term symptoms of hay fever.
Over time, they can negatively affect your life and disturb the quality of sleep, cause asthma symptoms, ear infections and make you less productive.
Moreover, it can cause eyes or allergic conjunctivitis, and sinus inflammation due to persistent congestion.
What makes the Symptoms worse?
Certain environmental factors can make the symptoms of hay fever worse.
This is because it causes inflammation in the lining of your nose and makes it more sensitive to the irritants in the air.
These irritants are wood smoke, air pollution, tobacco smoke, and wind.
Moreover, aerosol sprays, strong odors, changes in temperatures, humidity, and fumes can make your symptoms worse.
Diagnosis of Hay Fever
Your doctor will perform a physical examination and take your medical history.
Moreover, they will recommend the following tests:
Skin Prick Test: Your doctor will observe for an allergic reaction after small amounts of materials that can trigger your allergies.
These allergies are pricked into your skin either on the arm or upper back.
If you are allergic to any of these, you will develop a raised bump or hive at the site of that allergen.
Allergy Blood Tests: Your doctor will check your blood and measure your immune system’s response to a specific allergen.
Allergy testing is also called the Radioallergosorbent test or RAST, which measures the amount of allergy-causing antibodies in your bloodstream.
These antibodies are Immunoglobulin E, IgE antibodies.
The best treatment for hay fever is to limit your exposure to the triggers that cause it as much as possible.
Moreover, if it is not too severe, then OTC, over-the-counter medications are enough to relieve your symptoms.
However, for worse symptoms, you will need prescription medications from your doctor.
In case, your child is suffering from hay fever, make sure to consult your doctor about the treatment options.
It is important because not all the medications are beneficial for your child, and make sure to read the label carefully.
The medications for hay fever are:
Nasal corticosteroids: These nasal sprays help to prevent and treat nasal inflammation, itching, and runny nose.
Antihistamines: These are usually prescribed as pills, however antihistamine nasal sprays and eye drops are also available.
It can help prevent itching, sneezing, and a runny nose, however, can also affect your congestion.
Decongestants: These OTC medications and prescription liquids, tablets, and nasal sprays are of different types.
However, it can cause different side effects like an increase in blood pressure, insomnia, and headaches.
Leukotriene Modifier: This helps to treat and block the action of leukotrienes which are immune system chemicals that cause your allergy symptoms.
It is effective especially for treating allergy-induced asthma.
Nasal Iprattopium: This one helps to relieve severe runny noses by preventing the glands in your nose from producing excess fluids.
However, it is not effective in treating congestion, sneezing, or postnasal drip.
Oral Corticosteroids: These can help relieve severe symptoms of allergy.
However, it is often not recommended because it can cause side effects when used for the long term.
Other Treatments Options
Other treatment options are as follows:
Allergy Shots or Immunotherapy: If medications are unable to help relieve your symptoms, or are causing too many side effects, you may need allergy shots or immunotherapy.
You will receive small amounts of allergen as injections over the course of 3 to 5 years.
The goal of this treatment is to make your body used to the allergens.
Under-the-tongue or Sublingual Allergy Tablets: Other than getting allergy shots, you can have tiny amounts of allergen in the pill.
Rinsing your sinuses: Rinsing your nasal passages with sterile saline is a quick, inexpensive, and effective way to relieve nasal congestion.
This is also called nasal irrigation.
Although you can prevent the development of an allergy, however, you can find different ways to minimize its effects.
Some home treatments are:
- learn about the seasonal pollen months
- keep your windows and doors shut when the concentration of pollen is high in the air
- splash your eyes with cool water to soothe and clear them
- protect your eyes from wrap-around glasses
- avoid mowing your lawn
- wear a hat to prevent pollen from collecting in your hair
- avoid having flowers in your home
- use mite-proof bedding
- use a humidifier to prevent mold
- wash your pets when they come from outside
- you can smear your nasal passage with vaseline to stop the pollen from getting through
Some risk factors can increase your chances of developing hay fever.
Genetics: If either of your parents has hay fever, then your risk is higher
Other Allergens: If you have other allergens or asthma, you are more likely to suffer from hay fever as well.
Gender: Hay fever is more common in boys before adolescence, however, after this, females are more prone to suffer from it.
Smoke: Exposure to cigarette smoke during the early years of life can increase your chances of developing hay fever.
There is no cure for hay fever, however, you can manage symptoms during the time when the pollen count is high in the air.
For treatment to work, you should begin treatment before the season of pollen begins. Continous treatment can help reduce the symptoms, thus improving the immunity, and enhancing your quality of life.
However, if the symptoms do not improve, then you should discontinue the treatment. In severe cases, it can even lead to asthma. Thus you should talk to your doctor about effective treatment options to prevent complications.