We’ve all heard complaints about Hay fever – runny nose, sneezing, stuffy nose, itchy skin, itchy mouth, and watery eyes. It is a disorder caused due to allergic reactions to certain substances, smells, and foods. Let us look at it in greater detail.
What is Hay Fever?
Hay Fever is the common name given to Allergic Rhinitis. When you get this disorder, the immune system of your body overreacts and becomes sensitive to something present in the surrounding environment. Many times, other people are not allergic or sensitive to these things present. Hay Fever is not a regular fever and is harmless to most other people. Hay Fever is an allergy that has slight flu-like symptoms without the fever!
Some people have seasonal Hay Fever while some have it all year round. Most seasonal allergies pop up during spring, summer, and early fall. Some causes could be pollen, dust, strong smells, and so on. Perennial Hay Fever could be caused due to pet hair, dust mites, animal fur, mold, moldy smells, cockroaches, and unhygienic conditions and smells. Many people also have allergies to smells like cigarette smoke, smoke from barbeques, perfumes, petrol smells, and diesel exhaust fumes.
What causes Hay Fever?
The immune system in the human body depends upon antibodies to fight allergens or allergic substances entering the body. Cells in the body tend to release large quantities of chemicals called histamines into the blood and tissue to combat the allergies. These chemicals cause reactions in the body that are also known as allergies.
No one is completely sure of what causes Hay Fever. Different people have shown triggers to different symptoms. Hay Fever has a high rate in populated cities due to the increase in pollution and dust. Hay does not cause Hay Fever. The term ‘Hay Fever’ was coined when people faced nasal congestions, sneezing and runny noses while harvesting hay. This is just a misnomer. Just as Hay Fever is actually Allergic Rhinitis, so there is also Rhinosinusitis. This is a swelling and inflammation of the nose and nasal passage causing sinus in patients who sometimes mistake Hay Fever with Rhinosinusitis since the symptoms of both are similar.
Hay Fever symptoms:
Symptoms of Hay Fever are a runny nose, nasal congestions, excessive sneezing, mucous in the nasal passage, sore throat, scratchy throat, constant clearing of the throat, itching of the eyes and nose, and watery eyes. Dripping of clear mucous into the throat from the nose might also cause a cough. This cough is also usually attributed to being a symptom of Hay Fever. If the condition becomes extremely severe, patients may experience nosebleeds. There might also be redness and swelling of the eyes. When Hay Fever affects the eyes, there is a white discharge from the eyes and could also be called allergic conjunctivitis.
All these allergic symptoms can cause discomfort in regular day to day life and may hamper the quality of life. People with Hay Fever have shown difficulty adjusting to sports, outdoor sports, and concentrating on tasks and projects due to the constant irritation.
Hay Fever treatment:
Hay fever is not treated completely. Instead, the allergy is treated on the basis of the trigger causing it. This mostly happens through patch tests on the skin. The allergic substance that is suspected to cause the allergy is injected into the skin with a sterilized needle and observed for reactions. If the patient reacts to the substance with a redness or swelling around the location that the substance was placed, then there is a good chance that the patient is extremely sensitive to that substance.
Antihistamines are used to treat Hay Fever and its symptoms. Some medicines that help are Fexofenadine, Cetirizine, Allegra, and Loratidine. Many of the treatments for Hay Fever are available over the counter and can be availed at most pharmacies. Decongestants also help ease the nasal passage but are only effective in controlling symptoms of Hay Fever. They cannot cure the allergies that cause Hay Fever.
How to ease Hay Fever:
Hay Fever symptoms can be controlled with home remedies like hot tea, cinnamon bark, and inhaling steam. These home remedies are not tested for effectiveness against the reoccurrence of Hay Fever and are meant only to ease the immediate irritation. The best way to ease Hay Fever is to refrain from substances that are known to cause irritation like specific smells, foods, dust, and pollen. People who have difficulty breathing in polluted areas should cover their noses with masks or handkerchiefs.