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Dr. Andrew Rynne
MD
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Adult and Senior Health Hay Fever

Hay Fever

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Hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis, causes cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose, nasal congestion, and sneezing and sinus pressure and pain. But unlike a common cold, hay fever isn't caused by a virus ? it's caused by an allergic response to indoor or outdoor airborne allergens, such as pollen, dust mites or pet danders.

 

Allergic rhinitis which occurs during a specific season is called "seasonal allergic rhinitis." When it occurs throughout the year, it is called "perennial allergic rhinitis."

Signs and symptoms

  • Runny nose and nasal blocks (congested and stuffy nose)
  • Watery or itchy eyes- allergic conjunctivitis
  • Sensation of plugged ears
  • Sneezing
  • Cough- due to postnasal drip
  • Itchy nose,  irritation in the roof of mouth or throat
  • Sinus pain and facial pain
  • Swollen, blue-colored skin under the eyes (allergic shiners)
  • Decreased sense of smell or taste
  • Sleeplessness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability

Allergic rhinitis can lead to asthma and sinusitis.

Causes

  • In hay fever the allergens enters the airways (mouth, nose, throat, and lungs), eye linings, and sometimes ears via direct contact.
  • When the antigen (allergen) come into contact with antibody (IgE), there is release of histamine from mast cells which causes the symptoms of allergic reaction
  • Common allergens
  • Pollens – tree, grass, weed pollen
  • Spores from fungi and moulds
  • Dust mites or cockroaches
  • Danders (dried skin flakes and saliva) from pets (cat, birds, dogs and others)
  • Outdoor moulds- soil, vegetation and rotting woods
  • Indoor moulds- attics, basements, and moist places,  

Risk factors

  • Family history of hay fever
  • Repeated exposures to allergen
  • Other allergic conditions like eczema and asthma
  • Nasal polyps

Tests and diagnosis

  • Complete blood test
  • Absolute esinophil count
  • Skin prick test
  • Allergy blood test- Radioallergosorbent ( RAST)

Complications

Prevention

  • It’s not possible to completely avoid allergens, but minimize the exposure to allergens
  • Reduce outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are highest.
  • Wear a dust mask when doing outdoor activities such as gardening.
  • Consider removing carpeting, especially where you sleep, if you're highly sensitive to dust mites.
  • Block cracks and crevices where roaches can enter.
  • Wash dishes and empty garbage daily.
  • Store food in sealed containers.

Treatment

Other treatments

Immunotherapy

  • Also called desensitization therapy
  • The goal is to desensitize you to specific allergens, reduce the signs and symptoms, and decrease the need for medications.
  • Immunotherapy is especially effective in allergic to cat danders, dust mites, or pollen produced by trees, grass and weeds.
  • In children, immunotherapy may help prevent the development of asthma.

Nasal lavage

  • Rinse the nose with salt water to overcome the irritating nasal allergic symptoms
  • Use an over-the-counter nasal saline spray or prepare own saltwater solution using 1/4 teaspoon of salt mixed with 2 cups of warm water.