Hay Fever – Allergic Rhinitis
Technically speaking, Hay Fever has very little to do with hay and rarely involves a fever. The name came about to describe a group of cold like symptoms many people experienced each fall (during the “haying” season). In fact, it’s usually not hay that causes the allergy symptoms, rather it’s the ragweed pollen that fills the air each fall when hay is typically made.
Doctors call Hay Fever “Allergic Rhinitis” which means allergic inflammation of the membrane lining the nose. It is a term to describe the allergic reactions caused by sensitivity to pollens, mold, dust, or animals. Symptoms may include sneezing, congestion, runny nose, excess mucus, watery eyes, itchy eyes, sinus headaches, and a scratchy palate and throat. Allergies can be seasonal, caused by trees, grasses and weeds, or it can be year round, most often caused by an allergy to dust mite. Hay fever is not a life- threatening illness; however, it is serious enough to make life miserable for 20 million Americans who are susceptible to it. Unfortunately, many of the medicines available without a prescription cause side effects such as sleepiness, irritability, anxiety or difficulty falling asleep. However, hay fever can be successfully treated when the cause of the allergy is properly identified. With the right treatment by a good allergist, most patients will experience a dramatic decrease in their hay fever symptoms and a significant improvement in the way they feel. Treatments include learning to reduce exposure to things to which you are allergic, using safe medications to control symptoms and in some cases, taking allergy vaccinations to make you less allergic. If you suffer from hay fever, proper diagnosis and treatment by an allergist can give you dramatic improvement in your symptoms and also in the quality of your life.