Few conditions are more common or more irritating than having allergies or hay fever. Medically referred to as allergic rhinitis, hay fever can strike quickly and inflict cold-like symptoms in a matter of minutes. If you suffer from hay fever frequently you are not alone: about one in five Americans has some level of allergic reaction to common allergens.
Hay Fever Symptoms & Causes
Trees, grasses and weeds all put out tiny particles of pollen, which is spread around by the wind. When swallowed pollen can trigger an allergic response from the immune system that fights to keep it out. The body produces a chemical called histamine which can cause itching, sneezing, throat tightening and loss of voice. Other common allergens are mold and pet dander. Symptoms of hay fever may include rash, congestion, difficulty breathing, watery eyes and sinus pressure or facial pain. Get in touch with your doctor if symptoms persist or worsen, a fever doesn’t subside, your ear begins to hurt or you have a bloody nose.
Diagnosis & Treatment
When you go to see your doctor for the first time regarding possible allergy concerns, she or he may ask questions about your symptoms and perform a skin prick test or allergy blood test. Both tests will serve to inform your doctor what specific allergens are most causing your immune system response. Depending upon the severity of your hay fever several options are available to consider. Nasal decongestants, nasal allergy sprays, antihistamines and allergy immunotherapy shots or drops are all possible solutions depending upon your circumstance.
Avoiding allergens might be the best weapon in your fight against your symptoms or to prevent hay fever in the first place. While not proven, some experts suggest avoiding dust and other allergens as a child.