Hay fever is a common allergic condition that causes sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes. It's also known as allergic rhinitis.
Allergens in the air such as pollen from grasses and trees often cause the reaction. The condition typically starts in late spring or early summer and lasts until mid-fall when allergenic plants go dormant for the winter.
There can be other factors that contribute to hay fever symptoms such as smoke or changes in humidity levels.
Some cases are chronic where symptoms are ongoing year-round with no relief from treatment options available. Some people who develop hay fever may have a more serious condition known as asthma.
Hay fever is different than other allergy symptoms because the reaction to an allergen is not always immediate. Symptoms can take hours, days, or sometimes weeks before showing up. The type of grass pollen that causes hay fever in some people may trigger inflammation in other people causing asthma symptoms.
Yes you can. Sometimes hay fever seems to come out of nowhere. What's more, symptoms may appear in your child or grandchild without any prior symptoms. The condition can also become more severe later in life. Hay fever is most prevalent in the late spring and early summer, when pollen counts are high. Outdoor activities such as gardening are also more likely to cause an allergy reaction.
The symptoms of hay fever and allergies are almost the same: sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes. Allergies affect many more body systems than just the respiratory system. You may also have hives on your skin (urticaria), itchy ears (otitis media) or even have an allergic reaction to food or medicine (anaphylaxis). Hay fever occurs because you are allergic to grasses or trees that pollinate during certain times of year.
Usually hay fever symptoms are worse in the spring or early summer and then gradually subside. One way to judge whether you have hay fever is to track pollen activity.
The most common plant to cause this type of allergy is a tree called an oak. Oak is the only type of tree that sheds its leaves in the fall instead of winter.
The pollen from oak trees doesn't usually become active until about mid-April and stays active through the summer months until it goes dormant in October.
Pollen counts are highest during sunny, dry days when there is little or no wind. If you have allergies, count backward from your local calendar to determine which season (spring or summer) may be causing your symptoms.
The severity of hay fever varies greatly. Some people have minor symptoms like those described above, while others experience a more severe reaction called anaphylaxis. Symptoms usually get worse or last longer if you:
Are exposed again to the allergen (pollen) you're allergic to. For instance, if you suffer from a tree pollen allergy and go out in the yard where there is an oak tree, and then later go inside and get a chest cold with hay fever symptoms, you probably will be affected some time later when you return outside again.
When the weather changes. For instance, if it rains when there's little wind outdoors or it's too humid, pollen counts will drop.
If you have hay fever, you may take antihistamines. These are medicines that relieve the itching and runny nose. For itchy eyes doctors usually recommend using cool compresses or ointments to soothe the eye area. Some people with eye symptoms apply a drop of over-the-counter allergy eye drops such as Zaditor® or Patanol® about 15 minutes before leaving home.
This will reduce their symptoms during the day if they encounter an allergen outside. If your runny nose stops you from breathing normally for a period of 24 hours or more and you don't respond to antihistamines, then see your doctor about using an oral steroid medicine
Yes, it does. Scientists have determined that pollen changes from the type of allergen that causes hay fever during childhood to become a different type of allergen that causes allergies later in life. The change in pollen from one season to the next is called seasonal allergies.
Avoiding exposure to grasses and trees with pollen during spring, early summer, and late fall (the time when pollen counts are highest) can help prevent hay fever. Some people benefit from taking medicines for hay fever at this time of year as well. It's not known if taking medicine before or after these times reduces symptoms or prevents them altogether.
It last for as long as you are exposed to the allergens. If you come into contact with an allergen, then symptoms will start again.
Yes, but only by avoiding the allergens. This is difficult if the allergy-causing plant is inside or nearby your home in a neighborhood setting.
Grass allergies can be more difficult to control than allergies to trees because grass pollen falls into your yard from neighbors' lawns and may even be picked up from clothing and carried indoors or brought home on shoes.
This is why it's best to avoid being outside on windy, rainy days when pollen counts are highest. Another way to avoid exposure is by staying indoors when pollen counts are high outdoors.
There are many different factors that may lead to hay fever, including how close you live to a tree or grass that causes the pollen. If you have lived in a particular area for many years, you will probably have had hay fever symptoms during several years that were affected by the season of plant pollination.
In addition, your immune system may be affected by factors not related to season, such as stress, other illnesses and medications you take.
Yes, rain can make hay fever worse because it washes pollen out of the air. A rainfall of 0.8 millimeters (0.03 inches) or more in one day will cause pollen counts to drop by about 10%. However, a wet climate, in general, during winter and spring is associated with an increased prevalence of hay fever.
Hay fever is a common problem that is treatable. If symptoms are mild, you and your doctor can use antihistamines to control them. If you have a more severe reaction to pollen, such as anaphylaxis, you may need allergy shots (immunotherapy) to prevent symptoms. You can also try using antihistamines in high doses if your other treatments don't work.
Hayfever can be very allergenic. People with hayfever often have a difficult time enjoying the outdoors during spring if they live in an area where the pollen is plentiful. When symptoms are severe, antihistamines and decongestants may help to relieve the symptoms so that you can enjoy going outside. It may also require preventive therapy in order for you to be able to go outside without getting sick.
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