Hay Fever: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Overview

Hay fever is an allergic disorder characterized by an exaggerated immune response to pollen grains and other substances. It is also known as allergic rhinitis or nasal allergies, which can be seasonal, perennial, or occupational. Hay fever develops when the immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something in the environment. Hay fever causes cold-like signs and symptoms, such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing and sinus pressure. Allergic rhinitis is the fifth most common disease in the United States. It affects up to 30% of all people worldwide, including up to 10% of U.S. children under 17 and 7.8% of U.S. adults.

Causes

Hay fever occurs most often when people are exposed to the allergen. Allergens can be indoors or outdoors, seasonally or year-long. These allergens will trigger the immune system which identifies the substance as something harmful. In response to this, immune system will produce antibodies to defend the body. Antibodies signal blood vessels to widen and to produce inflammatory chemicals, like histamine, which will cause hay fever symptoms.

Besides, genetic factors also play a part in it. If someone in your family has allergies, you are more likely to have hay fever. This study found that if parents have allergy-related diseases, it increases the chances of their children developing hay fever.

Symptoms

The symptoms and signs of hay fever include:

  • Prolonged, violent sneezing
  • Itchy, painful nose
  • Headache
  • Runny nose and nasal congestion
  • Coughing and postnasal drip
  • Watery, itchy, red eyes
  • Swollen, blue-colored skin under the eyes
  • Ear pressure or fullness
  • Fatigue

Diagnosis

To diagnose hay fever, the doctor will first perform a complete physical examination and take a medical history. The doctor may possibly take the following tests:

  • Skin prick test. During a skin test, the doctor will prick your arm or upper back with tiny tubes that contain common allergens. If you’re allergic, you will develop a raised bump at the test site.
  • Allergy blood test. In this test, the doctor will take a blood sample and sent it to a lab to measure your immune system’s response to a specific allergen.

Treatment

For people with hay fever, it is best to limit exposure to allergens hay fever as much as possible. If your hay fever isn’t too severe, over-the-counter medications may be recommended to relieve symptoms. For worse symptoms, you may need prescription medications. Common meditations include:

  • nasal corticosteroids
  • nasal ipratropium
  • antihistamines
  • decongestants
  • cromolyn sodium
  • leukotriene modifier
  • oral corticosteroids

Besides, immunotherapy which contains allergy shots and sublingual tablets, eye drops and injection may be effective as additional treatment options.


Keywords: Hay fever

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.