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Home / Health Insurance / Articles / Medical Specialties / How to Combat the Common Misery of Hay Fever: Natural Remedies and More

How to Combat the Common Misery of Hay Fever: Natural Remedies and More

Team AckoSept 6, 2023

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is a type of allergy that causes inflammation of the nose, throat, and eyes. It usually affects those with an allergic reaction to pollen, dust mites, or pet fur and dander. Hay fever can range from mild to severe, and can occur at any time of the year. This article will provide basic information about hay fever, tips for symptom management, and a brief FAQ.

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Contents

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What is Hay Fever?

Hay fever is an inflammation of the airways and nasal passages caused by an allergic reaction to certain substances like pollen, dust mites and pet fur. It can cause symptoms like sneezing, itching and runny nose, as well as watery and itchy eyes. For those with severe hay fever, additional symptom management like oral medications and nasal sprays are available.

The allergic reaction can start almost instantly or take some time to develop. Once an allergic reaction is triggered, inflammation occurs which can result in nasal congestion, sneezing and other forms of irritation. The most common time of year for hay fever to become a problem is spring and summer when plants are producing pollen and grasses are growing.

What Causes Hay Fever?

Hay fever is caused by an allergic reaction to certain substances called allergens. Common allergens that can trigger hay fever are pollen from trees, flowers, weeds and grasses; dust mites; pet fur and dander; and mold spores.

When a person comes into contact with an allergen, their body produces an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). This antibody triggers the release of a substance called histamine, which leads to swelling, redness and irritation of the nose and airways. These chemical reactions are what cause the symptoms of hay fever.

Symptoms of Hay Fever

The most common symptoms of hay fever are itching and watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion and post-nasal drip. Additionally, headache, coughing, a hoarse voice and fatigue can occur. Children usually experience the same symptoms as adults, but may also experience difficulty sleeping or irritability.

Diagnosis of Hay Fever

If you are experiencing allergy symptoms and think you may have hay fever, it is best to consult with your doctor. Your doctor can diagnose hay fever with a physical exam and a review of your symptoms. Additionally, your doctor may order allergy tests to confirm the diagnosis and identify the allergen(s) causing the reaction.

Allergy tests come in two forms: skin tests and blood tests. Skin tests (or skin prick tests) involve exposing a small amount of the suspected allergen to the skin and observing for a reaction. Blood tests measure the amount of antibodies present in the blood. Both tests will help your doctor identify which allergens are causing your allergic symptoms.

Treatment of Hay Fever

The best way to treat hay fever is to avoid the allergens. This can be difficult, especially if the allergen is something like pollen, which is airborne and unavoidable. The second step to managing hay fever symptoms is to take medications. These may include antihistamines to reduce nasal congestion and irritation, nasal corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, decongestants to relieve nasal congestion, and mast cell stabilizers to reduce the allergic response.

In cases of severe allergy symptoms, allergy immunotherapy (or allergy ‘shots’) may be recommended. With allergy immunotherapy, a small amount of the allergen is injected over a period of several months. The goal is to desensitize the immune system, so that exposure to the allergen no longer causes an allergic reaction.

Tips for Managing Hay Fever Symptoms

If you are suffering from hay fever, it’s important to take some steps to manage your symptoms. Here are some tips to help ease the discomfort:

  • Wear a pollen mask when outdoors, especially on days with high pollen counts.

  • Limit outdoor activities when pollen counts are high.

  • Keep windows closed, especially during high pollen season.

  • Use an air purifier in the home.

  • Keep pets out of the bedroom.

  • Wash bedding regularly in hot water.

  • Shower and wash your hair before bedtime to remove pollen.

  • Take prescribed medications as directed.

Conclusion

Hay fever is a type of allergy that is inflammation of the nose, throat, and eyes. It is most often caused by an allergic reaction to pollen, dust mites, pet fur, and dander. Symptoms include sneezing, itching, and runny nose, as well as watery and itchy eyes. Diagnosis is made with a physical exam and allergy tests, and treatment typically involves avoiding allergens, taking medications, and in some cases, allergy immunotherapy. If you think you have hay fever, consult with your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most commonly asked questions about hay fever and their answers.

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What are the symptoms of hay fever?

The most common symptoms of hay fever are itching and watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion and post-nasal drip. Additionally, headache, coughing, a hoarse voice and fatigue can occur.

How is hay fever diagnosed?

If you think you may have hay fever, consult with your doctor. Your doctor can diagnose hay fever with a physical exam and a review of your symptoms. Additionally, your doctor may order allergy tests to confirm the diagnosis and identify the allergen(s) causing the reaction.

How is hay fever treated?

The best way to manage hay fever is to avoid the allergens whenever possible. Additionally, medications like antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids, decongestants, and mast cell stabilizers can be used to reduce symptoms. In cases of severe allergy symptoms, allergy immunotherapy may be recommended.

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