What is Hay Fever and How Is It Treated?

Hay fever is a widespread illness that affects people in most parts of the world. It is identified as a nasal allergy and commonly known as allergic rhinitis. Rhinitis pertains to the irritation or inflammation of the nose. Histamines are released when your body responds to allergen exposure. Histamines are supposed to protect you from danger, but they can also create your allergy symptoms, which can make certain seasons extremely uncomfortable.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is hay fever and its symptoms? 

Hay fever can be seasonal, year-long, or occasional. Mostly during the blooming season, you may experience symptoms like frequent sneezing, cough, eye irritation, and a nasal congestion. Hay fever and hay fever cough are not infectious, yet they’re unpleasant and can make you uncomfortable. Hay fever may last a longer time if symptoms are left untreated.

Symptoms normally include the following:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Postnasal drip
  • Watery, red, or itchy eyes
  • Coughing
  • Itchy throat or roof of the mouth
  • Sinus pressure and pain
  • Itchy skin

Do I have hay fever or a cold? 

Although the symptoms of hay fever and the symptoms of a cold can be similar, the greatest distinction is that a cold includes fever and body aches. Medication and treatments for both conditions are also relatively different.

Major differences include:

  • When an allergen is inhaled, hay fever develops almost immediately, whereas colds usually start one to three days after being exposed to a virus.
  • Hay fever can linger as long as you have an exposure to allergens, which usually last several weeks, while colds persist three to seven days on average.
  • A runny nose with a thin, watery discharge is one of the symptoms of hay fever, while colds may result in a sinus infection with sticky, yellowish discharge.
  • Hay fever doesn’t actually cause a fever, while colds do induce a low-grade fever. 

Other diseases that have symptoms similar to hay fever include:

  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Head cold
  • Sinusitis
  • Irritant rhinitis
  • Infective rhinitis

How do I know if my baby has hay fever? 

Hay fever is extremely common among children, yet it rarely manifests before the age of three. However, it is critical to address allergy symptoms, particularly in young children and infants. Severe hay fever symptoms might lead to long-term health problems. Asthma, sinusitis, and recurrent ear infections are just a few examples. According to recent research, your child’s genetics may determine whether he or she will get asthma in relation to hay fever.

Hay fever symptoms may be more difficult to manage in younger children. It has the potential to impact their attentiveness and sleep habits. The symptoms are often confused with those of a normal cold. Unlike them, though, your child will not develop a fever from the cold, and the symptoms will last for several weeks.

What happens if hay fever is left untreated? 

The symptoms of hay fever usually appear right after you’ve been exposed to an allergen. If you already have these symptoms for longer than a few days, you may develop:

  • Obstructed hearing
  • Throat irritation
  • Reduced smelling sensation
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Dark circles beneath the eyes
  • Irritability
  • Puffiness beneath the eyes

Having these symptoms for a long time can have a negative impact on:

  • Asthma symptoms
  • Sleep quality
  • Symptoms of low quality of life will make activities less enjoyable, causing you to be less productive at work or school, or even lead you to miss work or skip school.
  • Infections in the ear canal, specifically in children
  • Allergic conjunctivitis is a condition in which an allergen can affect and irritate the membrane that covers your eyes
  • Consistent congestion can develop sinus irritation, which can progress to sinusitis
  • Some individuals mistake hay fever for a cold, especially if it lasts a long period and the symptoms intensify

Why do you suddenly get hay fever? 

Your immune response can be triggered by certain allergies, which will incorrectly identify a harmless allergen as threatening. Your immune system responds by producing antibodies to protect your body. Antibodies tell your body to enlarge your blood vessels and create inflammatory substances like histamine. Hay fever symptoms are caused by this response.

The symptoms of hay fever usually appear soon after you are exposed to the allergen. Allergens can be found year-round or seasonally, indoors or outdoors. Most common allergens include:

  • Pollen
  • Fungus or mould
  • Fur or dandruff from a pet
  • Mites (dust mites)
  • Smoke from cigarettes

Furthermore, if someone in your family has allergies, you’re more likely to develop them as well. According to this study, having allergy-related disorders increases the likelihood of their children obtaining hay fever. Asthma and non-allergy-related eczema have no effect on your hay fever risk factor.

What can make hay fever worse? 

Depending on the time of the year, where you reside, and the allergies you have, your symptoms may differ. You can better prepare for your symptoms if you are aware of these things. Seasonal allergies are common in early spring, but allergens appear at different times of the year. Consider the following scenario:

  • During spring, tree pollen is more abundant
  • In the late spring and summer, pollen allergies are more prevalent
  • Ragweed pollination is more plentiful in the autumn
  • Pollen allergies can be exacerbated in hot, dry weather where pollen is carried by the wind

If you’re allergic to indoor allergens, however, your hay fever symptoms could last all year. Allergens found indoors include:

  • Cockroaches 
  • Dust mites 
  • Pet dander
  • Fungus spores and mould

Other irritants might exacerbate the symptoms of hay fever. This is due to the fact that hay fever creates inflammation in the nasal lining, making your nose more sensitive to airborne allergens. Among the irritants are:

  • Smoke from firewood
  • Pollution of the air
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Wind
  • Sprays with aerosols
  • Unpleasant odours
  • Temperature fluctuations
  • Humidity differences
  • Fumes

When should you go to the doctor for allergies? 

Hay fever symptoms typically are not life-threatening if treated immediately. During the diagnosis of hay fever, allergy testing is usually not necessary. If over-the-counter (OTC) medications are still not helping your symptoms, you should seek medical advice. If you’d like to know the specific reason for your allergy, you can ask your doctor or a specialist for an allergy test.

If any of the following symptoms develop, see your doctor:

  • You have symptoms that persist for weeks and are bothering you
  • You’re not getting any relief from over-the-counter allergy treatments
  • You have another medical condition, such as asthma, which is exacerbating your hay fever symptoms
  • Hay fever can occur at any time of year
  • Your signs and symptoms are quite serious
  • Your allergy meds are causing you to have serious side effects
  • You want to know if allergy injections or immunotherapy are a good choice for you

What is the best treatment for hay fever? 

Avoiding allergen exposure, keeping your surroundings clean and free of allergens, and using medication to control symptoms is the best way to treat hay fever. Consider doing some or all of the following:

  • Keeping windows shut to keep pollen from entering your home
  • When you’re outside, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes
  • Mould can be controlled by using a dehumidifier
  • In an open area, wash your hands after touching or socializing with animals
  • Use either a neti pot or saline sprays to ease congestion. These solutions can also help with sore throats by reducing post nasal drip

Treatment options for children include:

  • Drops for the eyes
  • Nasal saline rinses
  • Antihistamines that don’t make you sleepy
  • Allergy injections are most commonly given to kids aged 5 and up.

Foods that can help with hay fever treatment include:

  • Spirulina 
  • Capsicum 
  • Shrub butterbur, PA-free 
  • Vitamin C
  • Omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil

Honey is also said to aid in the lessening of seasonal allergies. However, unprocessed honey  should not be consumed by people who are allergic to bees.  In some cases, this can also help ease a scratchy or painful throat.

What’s more, many antihistamines that do not cause drowsiness are now available over the counter. If you take them being exposed to allergens, you might be able to avoid having symptoms. Inquire with your pharmacist about the best treatment options for you. If your condition worsens, you might need a prescribed medicine. These may include immunotherapy or allergy injections.