Hay fever is caused by allergies and is sometimes referred to as allergic rhinitis. Hay fever can cause several symptoms that are similar to the common cold and the flu. Despite the name, hay fever doesn’t actually cause you to have a fever, and it isn’t caused by a viral infection.
Hay fever can be brought on by common outdoor or indoor allergens. As uncomfortable as hay fever can be, it’s not something you have to put up with. There are several remedies and treatments that can bring you relief from your symptoms and make your days much more comfortable. In this article, we’ll talk about the symptoms of hay fever, the causes, the possible remedies, and how Wyndly can help.
If you want to find long-term relief from allergies, choose Wyndly. Schedule an allergy consultation with Wyndly to get started, or read on to learn more about hay fever.
What Is Hay Fever?
Hay fever is the name for the allergic reaction you have to outdoor or indoor allergens. It is usually brought on by inhaling these airborne allergens. When you breathe in these allergens, your immune system overreacts to them and perceives them as a threat. Your immune system will try to eliminate this perceived threat with antibodies and other chemicals. This immune response is what causes people to have allergy symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms?
If you’re familiar with the symptoms of allergies, you can expect hay fever symptoms to look very similar.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of hay fever:
- Runny nose
- Itchy and watery eyes
- Red eyes
- Itchy throat, nose, ears, or roof of the mouth
- Postnasal drip
- Sore throat
- Aggravated asthma symptoms
As you can see, hay fever has many similar symptoms to colds and the flu. However, it doesn’t have symptoms like fever, chills, and body aches. Also, hay fever can last for weeks or even months. A cold rarely lasts longer than two weeks. You can expect your hay fever symptoms to worsen if you get more exposure to your allergen. For those who have seasonal allergies, this would be when the pollen count is peaking. Indoor allergies can be bad at any time of year, depending on how prevalent the substance is where you live and work.
There are a variety of outdoor and indoor allergens that can cause hay fever symptoms to appear.
The most common outdoor hay fever triggers include:
- Tree pollen
- Grass pollen
- Weed pollen
- Mold spores
Mold can be present year-round, but it’s most common as an outdoor allergen in the fall, when conditions are ideal for mold growth. For the other pollen seasons, the length of your allergy season may vary, but generally tree pollen peaks in the spring, grass pollen peaks in the summer, and weed pollen peaks in the fall. There are exceptions to these, as certain species of trees, grass, and weeds may produce pollen at other times of the year. But typically, these are the pollen seasons you can expect.
Indoor allergens can be a problem anytime, but they can worsen in winter when you spend more time indoors.
These are some of the most common indoor allergens:
- Dust mites
- Pet dander and saliva
- Mold spores
The best way to reduce your exposure to these indoor allergens is by removing the substance to the best of your ability. For dust mites, this means keeping the house as clean and as free of dust as possible. Cockroaches should be exterminated. Keeping a clean house can also help with this allergen. For pet dander, it’s a good idea to wash your hands after handling pets, vacuum often to reduce dander, and keep pets off furniture, especially where you sleep. Mold should be killed when it’s spotted in the house, and you should be sure to fix any leaks where it might be able to grow. Mold prefers humid and dark conditions, so these are usually the places you should look.
Your risk for hay fever may be higher if the following is true for you:
- You already have allergies
- You have asthma
- Your environment often has allergens present
- Allergies run in your family
How to Get Diagnosed
If you’re unsure whether hay fever is the cause of your symptoms, it can be a good idea to get an allergy test. There are several types of allergy tests that you can take. If you want to take an allergy test at the doctor’s office, the doctor will perform an examination and recommend a test. For clinical tests, there are usually two options.
- Skin prick test: For a skin prick test, the allergist or nurse will introduce small amounts of allergen substances to your skin with a needle. The needle will poke or scratch the skin on your arm or your back. If you’re allergic to the substance, the skin that was scraped may turn red, feel itchy, or become raised.
- Blood test: Another option is a blood test. An allergy blood test will require a blood draw. The blood sample is then sent to a lab where allergy-causing antibodies are measured to identify your allergens.
These tests may be able to reveal your allergies, but they require a visit to the doctor and they can be uncomfortable or even painful. If you want an effective alternative to in-office allergy tests, you can get an at-home allergy test from Wyndly instead. Wyndly’s at-home allergy tests just require a quick finger prick, and they can be taken in the comfort of your home.
Hay fever is miserable to deal with, but it can have extended complications outside of your normal symptoms. Here are some of the negative outcomes that can be brought on by hay fever.
- Lower sleep quality: If you have hay fever, many of the symptoms can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep at night. Quality sleep is important for your general health.
- Daily life disruptions: Hay fever can make your daily activities less enjoyable, and/or it can cause distractions or a lack of focus at work and school.
- Aggravated asthma: Hay fever can make asthma symptoms worse or bring on symptoms more frequently.
- Sinusitis: The congestion you get from hay fever can cause sinusitis, which makes your sinuses inflamed or even infected. Ear infections can also be caused by hay fever, especially in children.
Managing or treating your hay fever symptoms can help prevent these complications from arising.
Are Medications Prescribed?
If you want to manage your hay fever symptoms, you have several options. The first suggestion is to limit your exposure to allergens. If your symptoms are mild, taking measures to reduce your exposure may be enough to manage your symptoms. Doing things like keeping your house very clean, staying indoors on high pollen count days, keeping windows closed, and showering after you’ve been outside can help to reduce your overall exposure to pollen and other allergens. However, if limiting exposure isn’t providing you with enough relief, you may need to try medications to help you feel better. In some cases, prescription medication options may be necessary, but this should be a last resort.
Typically, over-the-counter allergy medications are enough to temporarily manage symptoms. There are a variety of options available. You’ll want to be aware of any potential side effects. If you’re on other medications or you have other medical conditions, be sure to consult your doctor. Also, children may not have as many allergy options available. If you’re looking to manage hay fever for a child, ensure the medications are right for their age group.
There are several over-the-counter medications you might consider to manage symptoms of hay fever.
- Nasal corticosteroids: There are several brands of nasal spray that can be purchased over the counter. These sprays work by reducing swelling and inflammation in the nasal passages. This can reduce the common hay fever symptoms of stuffy nose, runny nose, congestion, and nasal itching. Nasal corticosteroids target these specific symptoms, which are often the main symptoms people with hay fever have.
- Antihistamines: Antihistamines are a more general allergy medication, as they manage symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes. However, they’re not quite as effective for congestion. These medications work by blocking the release of histamine, which is a chemical that contributes to allergy symptoms.
- Decongestants: Decongestants are specifically made to address symptoms of congestion. However, they shouldn’t be used in the long term, and certain brands aren’t safe for children. Children under the age of 2 shouldn’t take decongestants, and for children under 12, it’s best to consult a doctor. Decongestants tend to have more side effects than other over-the-counter options, so you may want to see if the others work for you first.
What Is the Treatment Plan?
Limiting your exposure and taking medications can manage symptoms of hay fever, but they’re not a long-term treatment. If you want to treat hay fever symptoms at the source, you may want to consider immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a treatment that introduces small, gradually increasing doses of an allergen to your immune system. Over time, your immune system learns to ignore or tolerate these otherwise harmless substances. This can bring you relief for years or even for life. Usually, immunotherapy treatments are taken for three to five years. There are two common types of allergy immunotherapy that are recommended.
- Allergy shots: Allergy shots are administered through an injection. In order to receive this injection, you’ll need to go to a doctor’s office for each dose.
- Sublingual immunotherapy: Sublingual immunotherapy is a safe and effective alternative to allergy shots with fewer side effects. Sublingual immunotherapy also doesn’t require painful needles or visits to the doctor’s office. This type of immunotherapy is administered under the tongue using liquid drops or tablets. Sublingual immunotherapy can be self-administered at home.
If you’re looking for natural remedies to hay fever in the meantime, there are some options you can try.
- Sinus rinse: You can rinse your nose with distilled, sterile saline. This process can flush out irritants and mucus to quickly relieve symptoms of congestion. You can buy a neti pot to make administering the saline solution easier.
- Hot shower: A hot shower can rinse allergens off your skin and hair, but the steam can also be helpful for loosening up congestion. Alternatively, you can use a humidifier.
If you’re looking for long-term hay fever relief, let Wyndly help.
Get Personalized Care With Wyndly
When you’re ready to find lifelong relief from hay fever symptoms, choose Wyndly. Our doctors can provide a personalized treatment plan for your allergy profile. Also, if you’re a candidate for sublingual immunotherapy, you can have doses sent to your door. Take our easy 2-minute online assessment today to see if Wyndly is right for you.