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Home > Blog > Hay Fever: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Hay Fever: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Hay Fever: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Max Lab

Oct 16, 2023

The nose is one of the five main sensory organs in the human body as it helps you to breathe in oxygen and provides the sense of smell. However, when you breathe in allergens through your nose or mouth, your body reacts by releasing a natural chemical called histamine. Histamine also has important functions like regulating our sleep-wake cycle and cognitive function. However, the release of this chemical can cause allergies which could lead to swelling and inflammation in the inner lining of the nose. This kind of condition is known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever which is very common as it affects 1 out of 5 people at some point in their life.

Hay fever and allergies are of two types: -

  • Seasonal: It can occur in spring, summer and autumn. Hay fever is caused by allergic sensitivity towards airborne mould spores, and pollen from trees, grass and weeds.
  • Perennial: Those with perennial allergic rhinitis can experience symptoms throughout the year which is generally caused by dust mites, pet hair or dander.

Interestingly, the meaning of hay fever isn’t what it seems - neither is it caused by hay nor do you get a fever.

What Causes Hay Fever?

Hay fever is caused by several indoor and outdoor allergens. People with perennial-type hay fever experience symptoms all year round while others experience it at a particular time of the year. This can be due to the following reasons: -

  1. Tree pollen which is common in early spring.
  2. Grass pollen which is common in late spring and summer.
  3. Ragweed pollen which is common in fall.
  4. Dust mites and cockroach droppings which consist of dead insects and rotting food from the garbage.
  5. Dander from pets that can bother you throughout the year and might cause worse symptoms, especially during winters when houses are closed up.
  6. Spores from outdoor and indoor fungi mould that could be both seasonal and perennial hay fever.

Symptoms of Hay Fever

Hay fever allergy symptoms include: -

  1. Itchy runny nose and nasal stiffness
  2. Watery or itchy eyes
  3. Sneezing frequently
  4. Cough and itchy throat
  5. Feeling like you have a cold
  6. Swollen or bruised skin under the eyes
  7. Extreme tiredness often due to poor sleep

Less common symptoms may include: -

  1. Difficulty concentrating
  2. Frequent headaches or facial pain
  3. Recurring sore throats
  4. Sinus infections in adult
  5. Recurring ear infections in children
  6. Reduced sense of smell

How to Diagnose Hay Fever or Allergic Rhinitis

A description of your symptoms and when they occur might help your doctor to diagnose hay fever or other conditions such as cold or asthma. The doctor may conduct allergy tests or take a detailed history of your lifestyle which can help to map out the cause of your symptoms. Your doctor may recommend a skin test as it is the easiest, sensitive and generally least expensive way of identifying allergens. With Max Lab, you can book a hay fever test online and avail the convenience of home sample collection.

Types of Skin Tests

  • Prick or scratch test: In this test, a tiny drop of a possible allergen is pricked or scratched into the skin. This is the most common type of skin test and you get the results within 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Intradermal test: Using a thin needle, a small amount of allergen is injected under the skin to check for a reaction after 20 minutes.

Treatment of Hay Fever

Treatment of Hay fever allergy can be done in many ways, which includes liquids, pills, eye drops, nasal sprays and injections. Talk to your doctor before taking any medication especially if you are pregnant or have other health concerns.

  1. Antihistamines: This type of medication is available with a prescription. They work by blocking the histamines your body releases during an allergic response. They come as pills, liquids, eye drops and inhalers.
  2. Decongestants: It gives you relief from congestion in your nose or sinuses. You can take decongestants by mouth or use nasal sprays.
  3. Corticosteroids nasal spray: This kind of spray reduces inflammation and provides you relief from the symptoms of hay fever. Side effects may include headaches, nasal irritation, nosebleeds and cough.
  4. Leukotriene inhibitors: As a response to allergic reactions, your body releases histamine, Leukotriene and other chemicals that cause hay fever symptoms. Taking this medication blocks Leukotriene.
  5. Immunotherapy: This type of treatment helps your body learn to tolerate allergens. Your doctor may give you a series of injections with a small amount of allergen. As a result, over time, your body develops immunity to the allergen.

You can also prevent rhinitis or hay fever by putting Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen. When you are outdoors, wear sunglasses and take a shower straight away to wash off the pollen. Buy pollen filters for the air vents in your car and stay indoors whenever possible.

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