“Hay fever” (allergic rhinitis) is a historical term used to describe upper respiratory symptoms which generally appear in the spring and fall, but which may be present all year. Millions are affected, from sneezing to congestion and other symptoms.

“Hay fever” (allergic rhinitis) is a historical term used to describe upper respiratory symptoms which generally appear in the spring and fall, but which may be present all year. Millions are affected, from sneezing to congestion and other symptoms.



Test your knowledge

1. Irritability can be caused by hay fever.

2. Fever is a sign of hay fever.

3. Sleep problems may be caused by hay fever.

Hay fever, another term for allergic rhinitis, is an over-reaction of the body to a harmless invader (allergen), commonly pollen, dust, mold or grasses. The body feels threatened and attacks the allergen through increased secretions (runny nose and eyes); thickened mucus (nasal congestion); airway irritation (cough) and other symptoms. These can be mild or very serious affecting daily activities and interfering with sleep. More serious conditions associated with hay fever include asthma, eczema, sinusitis or ear infections. Sinus congestion can cause facial pain, headache and may become infected. Since the sinuses are close to the teeth this may be mistaken for dental problems. Hearing can be blunted from middle ear fluid accumulation. Sore throat, without infection, may be present.

Unlike colds from viruses, there is no fever with hay fever. Colds are usually limited to 3-5 days.

However, when a person suffers from allergic rhinitis, they will have symptoms for as long as they are exposed to the allergen. For some, the symptoms are seasonal, following the emergence of pollen in the spring and fall. Others have daily symptoms all year long, which may be due to exposure to indoor allergens such as pet dander, mold, dust mites and cockroaches. 

Medications which temper the body’s reaction include oral medications, eye drops, nasal corticosteroids and others depending on specific symptoms.

Many children have allergic rhinitis and should be evaluated by a physician before any treatment is started.

A “nettie pot” is a tea pot-like container which can be filled with a salt solution and used to irrigate the nose, thus flushing out the allergen and decrease congestion. A salt water solution can be prepared using 1/4 teaspoon of table salt mixed with 2 cups of warm water.  

A physician may recommend special testing to identify the specific allergen(s), usually through skin prick test or blood test. “Allergy shots”, usually taken for 3-5 years, are low doses of the allergen designed to gradually desensitize the body to the invader and decrease or stop the over reaction. It is sort of like brokering a truce between the body and the allergen and can be very effective.

Avoidance of allergans and washing clothing and bedding in hot water likely will decrease symptoms. If allergies are affecting your daily activities, see a doctor. Enjoy Spring! Aaah-Choo!! Bless you!



Answers

1. T 2.F 3. T