If you or a family member suffers from itchy and watery eyes, as well as a red, congested nose, you may have allergic rhinitis. These symptoms get worse with season changes. More commonly known as hay fever, allergic rhinitis is easily treated.
Causes and Concerns
Like other allergic reactions, hay fever results when allergens enter your system by way of breathing, swallowing, or through your skin. When allergens come in contact with your airways, white blood cells react by producing antibodies to fight off the offending substances.
One of the most common allergens related to hay fever are pollens. These are small particles, released by flowering plants, which circulate in the air. Tree, grass, and ragweed pollens are the most common allergens that cause reactions in humans. Some of these flowering plants pollinate in the springtime, while others pollinate in late summer or early fall. Differences in rainfall and temperatures, from one year to the next, affect pollen amounts in the air within any given season.
Molds are the other common allergens associated with hay fever. They are a kind of fungus with no leaves, stems, or roots. Their spores travel through the air until they find a friendly host. Molds are not seasonal, as they are present all year long in the majority of the United States, and these allergens grow outdoors and indoors. When found outside, they occur in vegetation, soil and rotting wood. When they are inside, molds and mildew grow in areas where there is poor circulation (like basements, attics, and moist bathrooms).
Risk factors for hay fever:
- Family history of hay fever
- Repeatedly being exposed to particular allergens
- Having other allergic conditions (such as asthma or eczema)
- Nasal polyps (small growths within the nasal cavity and/or sinuses)
- Pregnancy may exacerbate hay fever symptoms
Signs and Symptoms
Approximately 15% to 20% of Americans suffer from hay fever to some degree. Found equally in men and women, hay fever is generally seasonal. However, it can last all year when allergens linger in the air. Spring and fall tend to be the two main hay fever seasons.
Common signs and symptoms of hay fever include:
- Frequent sneezing
- Runny nose with clear drainage
- Stuffy nose
- Postnasal drip
- Sensation that your ears are plugged
- Watery, red eyes
- Itchy nose, eyes, ear canals, nose, soft palate and/or skin
- Difficulty sleeping
If you or someone you love has these symptoms, you should call and schedule an appointment with one of our providers. Concerning symptoms and signs include:
- Symptoms do not get better with home treatments
- Persistent fever
- Nasal secretions become thickened, yellow, green and/or bloody
- Sore throat does not get better
- Earache or discharge from the ears
Solutions and Options
After our medical provider takes a thorough medical history of your previous allergens, as well as any family history of allergies, a skin patch test, where diluted solutions of different allergens are injected into your skin, may be recommended. If you have an allergic reaction to any allergen, it will appear as a red, raised bump (wheal) on your skin.
There are many symptoms and signs of hay fever. If other treatment methods are not effective in improving your hay fever symptoms, allergy shots may be an option. If you or a family member has any of these indications, do not hesitate to call our office today.
Call us at 817-595-3700 to schedule an appointment.
Additional Reading: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/hay_fever/article_em.htm