What is Hay Fever?
Hay fever, also referred to by its scientific name allergic rhinitis, is caused by an allergic response to certain substances in the environment. The symptoms of hay fever can cause much discomfort and be extremely irritating – a runny nose, sneezing fits, painful red eyes or congestion – and are bound to make any hay fever sufferer miserable! Some people with this condition refuse to even venture outside during peak periods.
Symptoms and signs surface when you come into contact with allergens. These symptoms may occur at a certain time of the year and are often triggered by tree, grass, weeds, pollen, or from spores of the fungi and molds – this is known as seasonal hay fever. Seasonal hay fever symptoms are most common during spring, late spring, summer and fall.
Allergic reactions that are caused by dust mites, animal dander, cockroaches or spores from indoor mold or fungi and bring about year-round (perennial) hay fever symptoms.
Hay fever is a very common allergic condition and affects one in five people in the United States. It affects people of all ages, but usually develops during childhood or early adulthood. Hay fever tends to be hereditary and you are more likely to develop this condition if there is family history of asthma or allergies. Other risk factors include being a firstborn child, of the male gender, born during pollen season, or if exposure to dust mites or cigarette smoke was received during the first year of your life.
Various conventional medications and natural therapies can minimize and control symptoms together with certain lifestyle modifications.
Symptoms and signs
The common symptoms and signs of hay fever include:
- Runny nose with thin, watery discharge
- Watery, tearing eyes
- Itchy, red eyes
- Facial pain and pressure
Additional symptoms include itching in the back of the mouth and throat, fatigue, irritability and loss of taste and smell.
Diagnosing Hay Fever
The diagnosis of hay fever is usually based on your symptoms, a physical examination and medical history. If allergies are suspected, certain tests such as skin testing to check for signs of an allergy reaction or blood tests may also be performed.
What Causes Hay Fever?
Hay fever occurs when an allergen such as pollen or fungus spores comes into contact with the mucous membrane in your eyes or nose. The immune system mistakenly identifies the allergen as an invader, and an antibody known as immunoglobulin E(IgE) is produced to combat these substances. The IgE antibodies secrete chemicals such as histamine that brings about sneezing, a runny nose and watery eyes.
Help for Hay Fever
The treatment of hay fever depends on the particular substance or allergen that is causing the hay fever attacks. If you are aware of the allergen responsible for your hay fever, you can avoid it. Various medications such as topical and oral antihistamines, corticosteroids, mastocyte stabilizers and nasal congestants can relieve and control the symptoms of hay fever. If these medications are not effective, other treatment options such as allergy desensitization or immunotherapy may be required.
Natural and holistic treatments offer a much healthier alternative to help reduce the symptoms of hay fever and provide effective relief. Many herbal and homeopathic remedies have healing properties provided by Mother Nature which are safe and gentle on the body’s system – without the unwanted side effects of antihistamine drugs!
Two well known herbs such as Urtica urens and Plantago lanceolata (also known as plantain) have been used for many centuries to treat inflammation, allergies and respiratory complaints, and also effective anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. Homeopathic ingredients such as Allium cepa and Ars. Iod help to minimize the symptoms of hay fever which include stinging, burning, streaming nose and eyes, violet sneezing attacks and wheezing chest.
More Information on Hay Fever
Tips for Coping with Hay Fever
There are several helpful tips to minimize the symptoms of hay fever and these include:
- Avoid allergens as much as possible once you are aware what is causing your allergy
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet to support your immune system
- Close doors and windows to prevent pollen and spores from blowing into the house
- Wear close-fitting sunglasses to prevent pollen from blowing into your eyes
- Avoid with areas with a high count of pollen such as gardens, grass, parks or fields
- Keep pets out of the house, especially the bedroom and living room
- Wash clothing and hair regularly because pollen can cling to it
- Vacuum carpets and dust regularly with a damp cloth
- Change bed sheets regularly and cover mattresses with mattress protectors
- Stop smoking and do not allow others to smoke in your home or presence
- Keep your home well-humidified
- Reduce your intake of alcohol – alcohol can be dehydrating and increase symptoms of hay fever