Is 'Hay Fever' Just Another Term For Allergies?

Dr. Mai-Vy Hoang 03/21/2017

blowing nose.jpgMany of us suffer from hay fever or know someone who does. Researchers say that up to 30% of all people worldwide are affected by hay fever, including nearly 8% of U.S. adults.

While you've suffered from or certainly heard of hay fever, exactly what it is may be unclear.

It's Not Actually ‘Hay’ Fever

Hay is not a common cause of hay fever (also known as allergic rhinitis), but its name may come from the nasal congestion, sneezing, and eye irritation that occurred during hay field harvesting. Many different allergens can produce hay fever symptoms.

Hay fever symptoms include sneezing, nasal congestion (rhinitis means "inflammation of the nose"), eye and nose irritation, a runny nose, and more. Symptoms of allergic rhinitis are common during times of the year when there's more pollen in the air, such as spring.

What Causes Hay Fever?

Hay fever is caused by your body's reaction to an allergen. The body identifies the allergen as an intruder and releases histamine and chemical mediators that produce allergic rhinitis symptoms. Hay fever is usually caused by pollen in the air during different times of the year, but can also be caused by other allergen triggers.

A person's genetic makeup determines if he or she will be allergic. Hay fever affects people of all races and males and females are affected equally. Symptoms often begin in childhood. Non-allergic rhinitis doesn't involve the immune system, but sufferers develop the same symptoms as those with allergic rhinitis. The cause of non-allergic rhinitis is unclear.

How To Treat Hay Fever

Avoiding the allergens that trigger symptoms is the best defense against hay fever. But your physician may prescribe an allergy medication to manage symptoms, including:

Antihistamines

Decongestants

Nasal steroids

Eye drops

Another way to manage symptoms is by monitoring pollen counts. On days when counts are high, limit your exposure to allergens by staying indoors.

If you’re suffering from seasonal eye allergies, contact Broome Optical for relief.

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