In the article below, you will find all the necessary information about allergic
rhinitis, also known as hay fever, including its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and
Definition of Hay Fever
Allergic rhinitis, otherwise known as hay fever, is the most common chronic disease, as well as
the major reason for chronic sinus and nasal problems. Hay fever affects up to one third of the
The groups of population most affected by the disease include children and young people.
However, the symptoms of hay fever also often occur in older adults and elderly people.
The Cause of Hay Fever
Hay fever usually occurs as a result of seasonal allergies caused by airborne plant pollens. These
pollens are typically present in the spring or fall seasons.
Pollen is a powdery substance that is released from flowering plants like trees, weeds and
grasses. This substance consists of microscopic grains, typically yellow, that are transported by
the wind or insects and serve for reproductive purposes. Each pollen grain contains a male
gamete (sperm cell).
There are several types of pollen that cause quite significant allergic reactions and lead to hay
fever. Those include grass pollen in summer, ragweed pollen in autumn, as well as mountain
cedar pollen in winter or spring.
Hay Fever Symptoms
Both seasonal and year-round allergens cause inflammation and irritation of the nasal passages,
which in turn triggers hay fever symptoms. These symptoms are sneezing, runny nose, nasal
congestion, itching of the nose, post-nasal drip, dark circles under the eyes, sore throat, trouble
smelling or tasting, and recurrent sinus infections. The symptoms of hay fever don’t necessarily
occur altogether, and one (or several) symptoms may predominate.
Hay Fever Diagnosis
A person can be diagnosed with hay fever, if he reports convincing symptoms, and physical
exams confirm the presence of the disease. However, experts recommend allergy testing to
diagnose hay fever properly.
Hay fever diagnosis requires positive allergy testing. If the testing is negative, a patient rather
has non-allergic rhinitis.
Allergy testing can be done in two ways – with blood tests and skin tests. However, the latter
option is the preferred method, since it tends to be more accurate.
Treating Hay Fever
There are several approaches to the treatment of hay fever. Utilizing two or more of this
approaches at the same time helps to treat the hay fever symptoms most efficiently. Thus, the
ways to treat hay fever are to avoid the allergens, to take medications or through immunotherapy.
Avoiding Allergy Triggers
Sometimes, the best way to prevent a disease is to avoid the causes, which also applies to hay
fever. However, avoiding airborne pollen can be challenging during the plants’ pollination
period. The substance is present in the outdoor air and it can easily get into your home, once you
open a window or door. Certain tips, such as wearing a mask, or staying indoors on windy days,
can help to minimize the pollen exposure.
Taking Allergy Medications
In many cases, to treat hay fever symptoms properly, a person needs to take medications. The
pharmaceutical market today offers various medicines for the treatment of hay fever, and
specific medications are required for individual cases, depending on the factors like the severity
and frequency of the symptoms, the cause and type of the hay fever, the form of medication that
is best suitable for a person, as well as the side effects brought by the medication.
Immunotherapy is normally the next recommended option, if the methods of avoidance and
medications are not effective enough to control the symptoms.
Immunotherapy helps to develop immunity to the hay fever trigger(s). This method of treatment
implies taking a number of injections which contain small amounts of allergenic substances. In
most cases, a course of such allergy shots is enough to significantly reduce hay fever symptoms,
or even cure them completely.
The most frequently-used form of anti-allergy immunotherapy nowadays is sublingual therapy,
otherwise known as allergy drops. However, this method has not yet been approved by the Food
and Drug Administration, which is why the traditional form of immunotherapy, allergy shots,
remains more common in the United States.
Hay Fever and Everyday Life
Hay fever can really affect a person’s daily routine, and in order to keep living a normal during
the allergy season, many people take medicines.
Hay fever symptoms can be relieved with the help of a wide variety of medications, from over-
the-counter drugs to prescription medicines, and even alternative options. The only option,
however, that can actually make a person less allergic by changing a person’s immune system’s
reaction to allergens is immunotherapy. Yet, success of the therapy cannot be guaranteed.