Hay and fever really have nothing much to do with Hay Fever which is actually the most common form of allergic rhinitis. Seasonal rhinitis, the more apt term for hay fever, is mainly caused by pollen from trees, weeds and grasses.  The amount of wind-borne pollen in the atmosphere greatly depends on weather conditions.  Concentration of pollen in the atmosphere is highest during dry, sunny, windy days and most sufferers have the worst conditions during these seasons.

pollen, hay fever
image via http://www.fitday.com

Seasonal rhinitis is often confused with the common cold as their symptoms are the same.  The nose, the roof of the mouth, the throat and the eyes start to itch and this is followed by sneezing, watery discharge, and blocked nose.  Headaches, irritability, loss of appetite and insomnia may also occur in severe cases.  These symptoms may just be for a short sneezing bout or may last for several days.

Sufferers of seasonal rhinitis may find relief of symptoms from the following:

  • Antihistamines – relieve runny nose, sneezing, and watery and itchy eyes
  • Decongestants – clear nasal blockages
  • Antiallergic drugs – prevent the release of histamine and other chemical mediators
  • Steroids – strong anti-inflammatory drugs that reduce the production of mucus and the swelling of the nasal lining

These medications merely provide relief of symptoms but do not eradicate rhinitis completely.  To cure one’s allergy, one may try to undergo the process of desensitisation.  In this process, the correct allergen is identified and the patient is given injections of the purified allergen extract in progressively increasing concentrations until the patient’s immune system becomes desensitised to that particular allergen.  Although it can eradicate the symptoms completely, this process has unpredictable outcome that it is rarely used as treatment for allergies.

For more information on the diagnosis and test for allergies, view this post.