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Straight, No Chaser: Do You Suffer from Hay Fever?

By Jeffrey Sterling, MD October 16, 2018

SeasonalAllergies_enHD

Hay (fever) there! If any of you don’t suffer from seasonal allergies (aka hay fever, allergic rhinitis), consider yourself lucky. As nuisances go, this has to rank high on the list. Allergies can make you incapacitated for days at a time and make you feel horrible. There are two questions I often get on this topic:

  • Why does it hit me so hard?
  • What can I do about it?

Today we deal with the why. We will dedicate a separate post to management of  seasonal allergies.

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The rhinitis in allergic rhinitis refers to the nose; the “itis” is a suffix designating an inflammation. Knowing this should make the symptoms and process easy to understand: we’re describing an inflammation of the nose due to allergies. We’re all aware of the offending particles: dust, pollens, certain animals, etc. The problem is the process of exposure causes the body to release chemicals in an effort to combat what is thought to be an imminent danger to the body.
Hay fever is a specific type of allergic scenario involving pollen as a culprit. The pollens of trees, weeds and grasses are carried by the wind to your nose. You don’t need a pollen count to tell you when the risk is high. Basically…

  • If you live where it’s hot, dry and windy, there are going to be a lot more pollens in the air.
  • If you live where it’s cool, damp and rainy, you won’t suffer as much, because the pollen isn’t in the air to the same extent; it’s being washed away.
  • If you have hay fever and allergies in your families (especially if both of your parents have them), you are likely to have hay fever and allergies. 

HayFever

If you inhale a pollen to which you’re allergic, symptoms will start rapidly. They typically include the following:

  • Itching primarily in the nose, mouth, eyes, throat and skin, although any area can be affected
  • Runny Nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Difficulties with smelling

With ongoing exposure, you can develop additional symptoms.

  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy, congested nose and sinuses
  • Stuffy, congested sensation in your ears
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Puffiness and circles under the eyes

If your symptoms are severe or don’t respond to over-the-counter preparations, you may need to see a physician. Similarly if the discharge turns from clear to colored, you may need medical intervention. If your symptoms remain or worsen over time, you may wish to discuss allergy testing with your physician, as this will guide treatment options.
Check back to Straight, No Chaser for a discussion of treatment options.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
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