Hay fever is the name given to allergies that usually occur seasonally. It produces cold-like symptoms in response to allergens from outdoor or indoor substances, such as pollen, mold, dust mites, or pet dander.
Symptoms of Hay Fever
Hay fever (also known as allergic rhinitis) is often mistaken for a common cold, with a similar set of symptoms. These include runny nose; sneezing; stuffy nose; itchy nose, throat, and eyes; sinus pressure and pain; watery eyes; and “allergic shiners” (the skin below the eyes appears to have a bluish tint). Telling them apart is tricky, but keep in mind that hay fever, despite its name, is rarely accompanied by an actual fever. Body aches and pain are notably absent, as well. And hay fever produces a thin, watery fluid discharge from the nostrils, while a cold typically causes a thicker, greenish-yellow discharge.
In addition, hay fever usually occurs seasonally. Pollen is the most common trigger; trees, weeds, and grasses release this substance when they bloom, at certain times of the year. But other allergens such as dust mites and dander aren’t limited to specific times of the year, and can occur at any time. It is therefore best to have a doctor or ENT specialist examine you to verify the presence of hay fever.
Diagnosing & Treating Hay Fever
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and review your medical history with you, asking questions about your symptoms, and will likely order allergy testing (either a skin prick or blood test) in order to verify that allergens are responsible for your misery.
The most effective method of treating hay fever is to avoid the allergen triggers, but this isn’t always possible. Your doctor will offer you additional remedies; these may include medications (antihistamines, decongestants, nasal corticosteroid sprays, prescription pills), nasal irrigation, and immunotherapy (allergy shots).