Hay Fever: What triggers it?
Hay fever, also referred to as allergic rhinitis, causes cold-like symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, and sinus pressure. However, hay fever is not triggered by a virus, unlike a cold. It can generally be categorized into allergic rhinitis and non-allergic rhinitis.
- Allergic rhinitis: When your immune system considers a harmless substance to be an allergen, hence releasing histamines as well as other chemical mediators in response. This results in the manifestation of symptoms in your eyes, skin, the roof of your mouth, ears, and skin. Allergic rhinitis can also be accompanied by allergic conjunctivitis. In extreme cases, it can exacerbate lung diseases such as asthma, especially in individuals who already suffer from both conditions.
- Non-allergic rhinitis: This condition does not involve the immune system. If you are suffering from non-allergic rhinitis, you will suffer from symptoms such as the runny nose and nasal congestion without a trigger. It is most common among adults.
What Common Allergens Can Trigger Hay Fever?
Common indoor allergens include mold, saliva and urine of pet, pet dander, dust mite droppings, skin flakes, and cockroach droppings and particles. This usually results in perennial allergic rhinitis, which means these symptoms can potentially attack you at any time.
On the other hand, common outdoor allergens include open burning, smoke, strong odors, and a change of temperature or humidity. These allergens can cause inflammation of the linings of the nose, sensitizing your nose to these irritants. It can also trigger seasonal rhinitis, which occurs at different times of the year when the level of pollen in the environment is high. If you are in a country with four seasons, your hay fever symptoms will tend to increase during fall and spring seasons.
What Are the Symptoms of Hay Fever?
- Having teary eyes
- Itchiness of the nose, eyes, ears, mouth, and throat
- Feeling sneezy
- Nasal congestion and stuffy nose
If you are unsure about the cause behind the symptoms, it is best to consult a doctor for medical care to find out if it could be an allergy.
What Can I Expect During the Consultation With My Doctor?
Your doctor will first do a physical examination followed up with your medical and allergy history. They will also enquire about your lifestyle, work as well as your home environment. An allergy diary may be handy.
Depending on your symptoms, you may be asked to undergo an allergy test such as RAST Blood Test or Skin Prick tests to establish the exact triggers of your allergic rhinitis.
How do I treat my Hay Fever?
After having successfully identified your potential culprit allergens, your doctor will work with you to develop an effective strategy that allows you to avoid the allergens as much as possible.
However, for allergens that are unavoidable as in the case of seasonal allergic rhinitis, you may be recommended certain medications for use before you come in to contact with the allergens. This will prevent you from developing allergic rhinitis and will minimize the severity of your symptoms.
There are numerous hay fever treatment options including:
- Nasal saline preparation
- Oral antihistamine sprays or oral antihistamine
- Nasal decongestion in the form of pills and sprays
- Nasal corticosteroid spray
- Immunotherapy such as sublingual spray tablets or allergy sprays
If you are experiencing any symptoms that might suggest hay fever, don’t hesitate to give us a call to schedule an appointment with our healthcare professionals.