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What is Hay Fever?

shutterstock_41346610-1024x752Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is something that millions of Americans suffer from each and every year. Hay fever is the result of the body’s overreaction to harmless allergens, which the immune system mistakes for harmful antigens, like bacteria. To fight what the body thinks is bacteria, histamine is released, subsequently causing an allergic reaction.

To put it simply, hay fever is a severe form of allergies that can be either perennial, meaning year round, or seasonal.

Why Do I Get Hay Fever?

Hay fever is triggered by an allergic reaction to an allergen in your body. When and how often you experience systems can help narrow down what is causing your hay fever.

If you experience hay fever only during peak allergy season, you may have an allergy to one or more of the following:

  • Tree pollen
  • Grass pollen
  • Ragweed pollen
  • Spores from mold, spores, and other fungi

Those who suffer from year-round allergic rhinitis may be allergic to one or more of the following:

  • Dust mites and cockroaches
  • Dander from pets, such as cats, dogs, or birds
  • Spores from indoor or outdoor mold

How Do I know If I Have Hay Fever?

Image - Woman Rubbing EyesWhile hay fever can be a year round issue for some, extreme seasonal pollen counts in Houston have made Houstonians accustomed to the dealing with the dreaded ‘allergy season’. The season for hay fever in Houston can start as early as January and last until the cool airs blow through, which can be as late as September.

You may be suffering from hay fever if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy throat
  • Stuffy nose
  • Fatigue
  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Recurrent sinus infections
  • Hives
  • Trouble breathing or asthma

Hay fever may be manageable with an over-the-counter antihistamine, as these medications neutralize the effects of the histamines, clearing symptoms temporarily. However, unmanaged hay fever can become difficult to treat over time. In addition, other medical conditions, such as a deviated septum or a common cold, can complicate even mild cases of hay fever and make it harder to treat.

What Can I do About Hay Fever?

If you suffer from recurring hay fever, masking your symptoms with an over-the-counter antihistamine allergy medication will only provide temporary relief, not a long-term solution. If you’re a cat lover who just can’t give up your furry companion, maybe consider one of the many hypoallergenic cats or dogs bred nowadays. You should visit a certified ENT to learn about your options for customized allergy treatment before your symptoms worsen.

If you live in Houston and are tired of dealing with hay fever, make an appointment with Dr. Pasha today.