If you’re familiar with red, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, stuffy nose and sneezing after visiting Grant Park, you likely suffer from hay fever. Hay fever is known by several other names, including allergic rhinitis, seasonal allergies and nasal allergies. Below we review everything you need to know about the condition.
How Common Is Hay Fever?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 19.2 million adults and 5.2 million children in the U.S. were diagnosed with hay fever in the past 12 months. About 60 million people in the U.S. experience symptoms each year.
What Are the Symptoms of Hay Fever?
Symptoms of hay fever may be short-term or long-term. Short-term symptoms include:
- Runny/stuffy nose.
- Itchy, red, watery eyes.
- Postnasal drip.
- Sinus pain/pressure.
- Itchy nose, throat and mouth.
- Itchy skin.
Some symptoms can last days or weeks, including:
- Clogged ears.
- Sore throat.
- Decreased sense of smell.
- Dark circles/puffiness under the eyes.
What Causes Hay Fever?
Allergies, including hay fever, occur when your body overreacts to a substance that is usually harmless, known as an allergen. When your body exposed to an allergen, the immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) in order to fight off the “intruder.” IgE then tells your cells to release histamine, which increases mucus production and triggers inflammation. This is what causes your allergy symptoms.
Common hay fever allergens include:
- Dust mites.
- Pet dander.
- Mold and fungus spores.
If you have allergies in the early spring, you’re likely allergic to tree pollen; if you have them in the late spring and summer, you’re likely allergic to grass pollen; and if you have them in the fall, you’re likely allergic to ragweed pollen. If you have symptoms year-round, you’re probably reacting to indoor allergens.
How Are Allergy Symptoms Managed?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for allergies. However, there are ways to manage symptoms. For example, you can take over-the-counter medications, like a daily antihistamine. You can also talk to your doctor about starting immunotherapy, a treatment that helps decrease symptoms over time by helping the body build a tolerance.
For more information about immunotherapy or to schedule an allergy test, call the experts at ENT of Georgia today!