If you experience itchy, watery eyes, stuffy nose, scratchy throat and sneezing when visiting Spruce Street Harbor Park, you probably have hay fever. Hay fever goes by many names, including seasonal allergies, allergic rhinitis and nasal allergies. Below we review everything you need to know about hay fever.
How Common Is Hay Fever?
According to the CDC, approximately 19.2 million adults and 5.2 million children in the U.S. were diagnosed with hay fever in the past 12 months alone. A total of roughly 60 million Americans are affected each year.
What Are the Symptoms of Hay Fever?
Hay fever symptoms are most common in the spring and summer, but can occur year-round depending on what you’re allergic to.
Common symptoms include:
- Red, itchy, watery eyes.
- Runny or stuffy nose.
- Sinus pain and pressure.
- Itchy mouth and throat.
- Postnasal drip.
- Itchy skin.
If symptoms are left untreated, they can lead to:
- Puffy eyes and dark circles.
- Clogged ears.
- Loss of sense of smell.
- Sinus infections.
- Sore throat.
What Causes Allergies?
Allergy symptoms are the result of an overreaction of your immune system.
The immune system’s job is to protect your body from diseases, viruses and infections. But for some people, the immune system mistakes a harmless substance like pollen, pet dander, dust mites, mold, insect stings and certain foods as a dangerous intruder and attacks.
During this attack, the immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which causes the cells to release histamine. Histamine increases mucus production and causes swelling and itching.
Common Hay Fever Triggers
If your allergies only flare up during the spring and summer, you’re most likely allergic to pollen. The timeframe in which you experience symptoms can help determine what type of pollen you’re allergic to.
- Tree pollen is responsible for early spring allergies.
- Grass pollen triggers allergies in the late spring and summer.
- Ragweed pollen is most common in the fall.
If your symptoms are year-round, you may also be allergic to:
- Pet dander.
- Dust mites.
- Mold spores.
Finding Relief for Hay Fever
While many can manage their hay fever symptoms with over-the-counter medications like antihistamines and decongestants, some require a more long-term approach. Immunotherapy helps your body build up a tolerance to allergens so over time you experience fewer symptoms.
For more information on allergy testing or to schedule an appointment with an expert allergist, call Pinnacle ENT Associates today!