What is Hay Fever?
In 2012, over 17 million people, children and adults, were diagnosed with hay fever in the United States. Hay fever, also known as rhinitis, is an allergic disorder in which the immune system flares up in reaction to pollens and other irritants in the air.
Triggers of Rhinitis
If you have allergic rhinitis, pollen may be your worst enemy. High pollen counts can trigger the immune system to attack itself. It will release histamines and other micro bodyguards that can irritate your nose, ears, skin, and throat. Think runny nose and itchy eyes.
Other triggers of allergic rhinitis can include dust, pets, molds, and believe it or not, bugs. People who have allergic reactions to a variety of contaminants have perennial allergic rhinitis, meaning hay fever flare ups could occur at any time of the year. Allergic rhinitis is sometimes accompanied by allergic conjunctivitis, where the eyes become red and sensitive.
Diagnosing and Treating Rhinitis
Physicians are able to diagnose the problem easily if symptoms crop up at the same time every year. Annual problems during hay fever season are a dead giveaway, or if rhinitis runs in the family. Asthma and eczema often go hand-in-hand with these seasonal allergy symptoms. Your skin may also break out in hives.
Your doctor will likely suggest allergy testing with a blood test. He or she may also prescribe allergy shots or antihistamines to help combat the immune response. Avoiding airborne pollen completely is nearly impossible, but there are some steps you can take to keep exposure down:
- Avoid cutting the grass when symptoms are heightened.
- Never camp or spend long periods of time outside when the pollen forecast in your area is high. There are websites to help you check the forecast.
- Vacuum the house regularly to keep dust and other irritant levels low.
- Wear wrap-around sun glasses to help protect your eyes when outdoors.
- Use air conditioning when traveling in the car instead of lowering the windows. Pollen filters for your car help, too.
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Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health.
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