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What Is Hay Fever Allergy

How Is Allergic Rhinitis Treated

Hay fever: How to diagnose and treat the allergy

Several allergy medications can improve symptoms and help you live with hay fever. These treatments come in many forms, including liquids, pills, eye drops, nasal sprays and injections. Talk to your provider before taking any medication, especially if youre pregnant or have other health concerns. Your provider may suggest:

Antihistamines: Antihistamine medications are available with a prescription or over the counter. They work by blocking the histamine that your body releases during an allergic response. Antihistamines come as pills, liquids, eye drops, nasal sprays and inhalers. They include:

  • Loratadine .
  • Fexofenadine .
  • Levocetirizine .

Antihistamines can cause drowsiness. Avoid alcohol when taking antihistamines, especially if youre going to drive.

These medications relieve congestion in the nose and sinuses. You can take decongestants by mouth or use a nasal spray. They include:

  • Afrin® nasal spray.
  • Phenylephrine nasal spray .
  • Pseudoephedrine .

Corticosteroid nasal sprays: These sprays and inhalers reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms of hay fever. The most common nasal sprays are Flonase®, Nasacort® and Rhinocort®. Side effects include headaches, nasal irritation, nosebleeds and cough.

Your provider might recommend immunotherapy in the form of a pill that you place under your tongue.

How Common Is Allergic Rhinitis/hay Fever

Allergic rhinitis affects up to 30% of all people. The condition is more common among children, but 10-30% of adults also suffer from hay fever. Areas with mild winters, such as the Jacksonville region, tend to have longer allergic rhinitis seasons due to more months of pollen production. In fact, our city is one of the worst in the nation for hay fever sufferers.

Hay Fever And Seasonal Allergies

Hay fever is caused by an allergy to pollen. Common hay fever symptoms are a runny, itchy and/or blocked nose, sneezing and itchy eyes. Common treatments are an antihistamine nasal spray or medicine and/or a steroid nasal spray. Other treatments are sometimes used if these common treatments do not work so well.

In this article

Hay Fever and Seasonal Allergies

In this article

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What Is Hay Fever Allergy And How Can You Prevent It

Hay fever is a typical allergic illness which impacts approximately 7.8% individuals 18 and beyond in the United States1. Some of the common symptoms of hay fever consist of:

  • itchy eyes
  • a runny nose
  • sneezing

You will feel hay fever symptoms when you have an allergic reaction to pollens. You see: pollens are a powder freed by plants as a part of their reproductive cycle. It has proteins which can cause the throat, sinuses, eyes, and nose to become inflamed, irritated and swollen.

You could have an allergy to:

  • weed pollen
  • grass pollen
  • tree pollen

Did you know that a lot of individuals find their symptoms strengthen as they get older? At least half of people claim a few improvements in symptoms after a few years. Symptoms vanish entirely in around ten to twenty percent of individuals2.

What is the Possible Impact of Having Hay Fever Allergy?

The total burden of allergic rhinitis is better understood if you consider that 50% of patients suffer for more than 4 months every year have symptoms for approximately 9 months per year. These influences by hay fever allergy experience more prolonged and frequent sinus infection, and for those who also suffer from itchy, red eyes, theres the danger of having infective conjunctivitis because of constant rubbing.

Patients who have hay fever allergy also experience form more prolonged and frequent infections, and asthma has been proved to be more complicated to control except allergic rhinitis is managed as well.

Suggestions To Reduce Symptoms

Hay fever: One in six believe the common allergy is spread like a COLD ...

To prevent or limit symptoms of hay fever, minimise exposure to known allergens.

House dust mite minimisation:

  • Wash sheets, pillow cases and other bedding weekly in hot water.
  • Cover mattress, pillow and quilt with dust mite resistant covers.
  • Remove sheepskins or woollen underlays from the bed and bedroom.
  • Remove soft toys from the bedroom.

Pet dander minimisation:

  • Ensure pets are kept out of bedrooms.
  • Keep pets outside.

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Questions To Ask Your Doctor

  • Could anything else, such as a cold or the flu, be causing my symptoms?
  • How do I figure out what Im allergic to?
  • Is my allergy seasonal?
  • I am allergic to _____. Am I at risk for any other allergies?
  • What changes can I make at home to relieve my symptoms?
  • Will any over-the counter medicines relieve my symptoms?
  • What should I do if my symptoms get worse or dont respond to the treatment youve prescribed?
  • Do I need to see an allergy specialist ?

Hay Allergy Not Hay Fever

A great conundrum of those with allergies is the fact that what is colloquially called hay fever is actually something that has nothing to do with fevers however, it may, for some people, not have a darn thing to do with hay. Its just another term for allergic rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis is extremely common in those with asthma, but more often used in regard to seasonal allergies and the accompanying symptoms. These symptoms include a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, mouth or skin, and feeling tired.1

Notably, fever isnt among the list of symptoms! And while pollens found in hay can be a trigger for allergic rhinitis, its not exclusive. These symptoms can also be caused by dust mites and mold.1 While hay pollens can trigger allergic rhinitis2, so could dust mites contained in the hay3 . The term hay fever is quite the misnomer!

As such, when one does a Google search for hay allergy, all results are actually about hay fever, not necessarily allergy to hay. How perplexing this could be, especially to a parent whose kid is clearly having a contact skin reaction to hay, versus symptoms more consistent with airborne allergies!

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When To Seek Help

  • Your allergy symptoms are interfering with your quality of life
  • Your hay fever does not go away
  • The over-the-counter medicines you take donât work or have unpleasant side effects
  • You have other problems, like asthma, chronic sinus infections, or polyps in your nose

Many people try to live without treating hay fever, but treatment can help ease your symptoms. Getting help for your symptoms early can put you on the right track for improving your allergies.

Reducing Your Risk Of Hay Fever

Hay fever and seasonal allergies

Although it is impossible to cure hay fever, you may be able to significantly decrease your risk of hay fever by avoiding exposure to the allergens that cause your symptoms. A health care provider may be able to help you determine the allergen or allergens that cause your symptoms, if you are unsure.

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When Is There Most Pollen

Different trees and plants produce their pollen at different times of the year. Depending on which type of pollen you’re allergic to, you may experience hay fever symptoms at different times.

In the UK, the pollen count season is usually separated into 3 periods:

  • tree pollen late March to mid-May
  • grass pollen mid-May to July
  • weed pollen end of June to September

However, the pollen count season can sometimes begin as early as January or end in November. For example, depending on the weather conditions, sometimes there can be an “early spring” or a “long summer”.

Common Treatments For Hay Fever

There are a variety of treatments for hay fever, and you and your healthcare provider can decide which treatment or combination of treatments is most appropriate for you. Common treatments for hay fever include:

  • Antihistamines, such as loratadine , which reduce the effects of the histamines that your body releases in response to allergens. Antihistamines reduce many of the common symptoms of hay fever, such as watery eyes, swelling, and itchiness. Some antihistamines can cause drowsiness.

  • Corticosteroids, such as fluticasone propionate , which decrease your bodys sensitivity to various allergens, thereby reducing symptoms of hay fever. Corticosteroids can be sprayed into your nose. They are most effective when used on a consistent basis, not just when symptoms occur.

  • Leukotriene inhibitors, like montelukast , which inhibit some of the substances your body releases that cause the symptoms of hay fever. Leukotriene inhibitors are most effective when used on a consistent basis, not just when symptoms occur.

  • Immunotherapy or injections, which desensitize the body to a particular allergen or allergens. Immunotherapy is best for more severe symptoms and when an allergen cannot be avoided. Immunotherapy can be highly effective or it may not work at all.

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When To Get Help

  • Your allergy symptoms are affecting your quality of life.
  • Your hay fever does not go away.
  • Over-the-counter medicines don’t help or have unpleasant side effects.
  • You have other problems, like asthma, chronic sinus infections, or polyps in your nose.

Many people try to live without treating hay fever, but treatment can help ease your symptoms. Getting help for your symptoms early can put you on the right track for improving your allergies.

Management Of Allergic Rhinitis

Cause of Hay Fever Allergies Found in The Last Place Youd Look  Green ...

Reduce exposure to triggers

If the allergen causing the allergic rhinitis is confirmed, minimising exposure to the allergen may help to reduce symptoms.Some of these measures are costly and time consuming and are therefore only recommended once your triggers have been confirmed by a doctor.

Information on environmental allergen minimisation can be found .


Although medications do not cure allergies, theyare effective at improving symptoms and have few side effects. It is important to use them correctly, and to avoid medications that can cause problems such as frequent decongestant nose sprays or tablets.

You should see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment recommendations. Most treatments for allergic rhinitis are available without a prescription. Treatments include

  • non-drowsy antihistamines
  • intranasal corticosteroid sprays
  • sprays containing a combination of INCS and antihistamine
  • salt water nasal sprays and rinses

It is important that you are taking the right medication/s. Some people need multiple medications to manage allergic rhinitis. Like asthma management, medications for allergic rhinitis may be considered in terms of preventer treatment and reliever treatment .

  • Mild, intermittent symptoms such as itching, sneezing and watery eyes may settle with non-drowsy antihistamines used as required. Antihistamines provide temporary relief from mild symptoms only.
  • Saline nasal sprays or nasal/sinus rinses can also be effective in relieving symptoms.

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Types Of Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis may be classified by the how long the symptoms last for and how severe the symptoms are . See the table below.Understanding the duration and severity of your symptoms willhelp to guide the best treatment for you.

Symptoms may occur in spring/summer or all year round . Complications of untreated allergic rhinitis include trouble sleeping, daytime tiredness, headaches, poor concentration, frequent ear or sinus infections and asthma which can be more difficult to control.

About 75% of people with asthma also have allergic rhinitis, and about 25% of people with allergic rhinitis also have asthma. Allergens like pollen can trigger asthma as well as allergic rhinitis symptoms. Many people with allergic rhinitis due to grass pollen allergy can get allergic asthma in spring and summer when they also have allergic rhinitis.

Better control of allergic rhinitis has been shown to result in better asthma control in both adults and children. Untreated allergic rhinitis may also increase the risk of developing asthma.

Causes And Risk Factors

Allergy symptoms arise when your body overreacts to particular substances that are usually harmless, such as pollen. These substances trigger a chain reaction in the immune system. First, antibodies to the allergen are made, and they bind to specific cells. If these cells come into contact with the allergen again, they are then able to respond by releasing chemical substances such as histamine. These substances then lead to allergic reactions such as sneezing or itchy eyes.

The following table shows which plants commonly cause allergic reactions and when pollen from those plants is typically in the air:


Sometimes a higher risk of allergies runs in families. Environmental factors such as air pollution and cigarette smoke can make allergies more likely.

Allergies are quite common nowadays. This may be partly due to higher standards of hygiene and the fact that some infections have become less common in childhood. As a result, our immune systems are often not as well trained as they might have been in the past.

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What Causes Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis occurs when your bodys immune system reacts to an irritant in the air. The irritants are so tiny that you can easily inhale them through your nose or mouth.

Allergens are harmless to most people. But if you have hay fever, your immune system thinks the allergen is intruding. The immune system tries to protect your body by releasing natural chemicals into your bloodstream. The main chemical is called histamine. It causes mucous membranes in the nose, eyes and throat to become inflamed and itchy as they work to eject the allergen.

Seasonal and perennial allergies can result from many allergens, including:

  • Dust mites that live in carpets, drapes, bedding and furniture.
  • Pollen from trees, grass and weeds.
  • Pet dander .
  • Mold spores.
  • Cockroaches, including their saliva and waste.

Food allergies can also cause inflammation in the nose and throat. If you think youre having an allergic reaction to something you ate, get medical help right away. Food allergies can be life-threatening.

How Is Hay Fever Treated

Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever & Seasonal Allergies) Signs & Symptoms (& Why They Occur)

Though there is no cure for hay fever, other than completely avoiding allergens that cause your symptoms, some treatments may make the condition much easier to endure. The most common treatments include prescription medications, such as antihistamines, corticosteroids, decongestants, and leukotriene inhibitors. Immune therapy is also used in more severe cases. You and your healthcare provider should determine which treatments are best for you to control your hay fever.

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Can Allergic Rhinitis Be Prevented Or Avoided

Allergic rhinitis cannot be prevented. You can help your symptoms by avoiding the things that cause your symptoms, including:

  • Keeping windows closed. This is especially important during high-pollen seasons.
  • Washing your hands after petting animals.
  • Using dust- and mite-proof bedding and mattress covers.
  • Wearing glasses outside to protect your eyes.
  • Showering before bed to wash off allergens from hair and skin.

You can also avoid things that can make your symptoms worse, such as:

  • Aerosol sprays.
  • Wood smoke.

Complications Of Hay Fever

Hay fever can lead to complications such as sinusitis and middle ear infections . It can also have a significant impact on your daily activities.

In one study, a third of adults with hay fever reported that their symptoms had a considerable negative impact on their work, home and social life.

Children’s symptoms can disrupt their schooling and lead to delays in learning and development. Unfortunately, the peak of the grass pollen season coincides with the annual GCSE examinations.

In most cases, the negative impact can be reduced with treatment. However, see your GP if you’re concerned that hay fever is becoming an increasing problem in your life.

You should also make extra efforts to limit exposure to pollen. Read more about preventing hay fever.

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Key Points About Hay Fever

  • Hay fever is very common and is caused by many irritants such as grass pollen, pet dander and dust mites.
  • Symptoms include blocked nose, runny and itchy nose, sneezing, coughing, red, itchy and watery eyes.
  • Severe hay fever may make you tired as it can affect your sleep and concentration.
  • If you have hay fever you may be more likely to develop eye or sinus infections. If you have asthma, it may be harder to manage.
  • The best way to prevent hay fever is to avoid whatever is irritating you, but this is not always possible.
  • Medicines such as antihistamine tablets or nasal sprays, corticosteroid nasal sprays, eye drops or decongestant medicines may relieve your symptoms.
  • Hay Fever Symptoms In Infants And Children

    Hay Fever

    Hay fever is extremely common in children, though they rarely develop before 3 years of age. But its important to treat allergy symptoms, especially in infants and children. Serious hay fever symptoms can develop into long-term health conditions like asthma, sinusitis, or chronic ear infections. Recent studies show that genetics may indicate whether or not your child will develop asthma alongside hay fever.

    Younger children may have more trouble dealing with hay fever symptoms. It can affect their concentration and sleeping patterns. Sometimes the symptoms get confused with the common cold. But your child wont have a fever like they might with the cold and the symptoms will persist beyond a few weeks.

    Hay fever symptoms often start immediately after youre exposed to a specific allergen. Having these symptoms for more than a few days can cause:

    • clogged ears

    Experiencing these symptoms over time can have a negative effect on:

    • sleep quality
    • asthma symptoms
    • quality of life as symptoms may make activities less enjoyable, or cause you to be less productive at work and school, or even require you to stay home from work or school
    • ear infections, especially in children
    • eyes, or allergic conjunctivitis, which occurs when the allergen irritates the membrane over your eye
    • sinus inflammation, which can become sinusitis due to persistent congestion

    Some patients say that hay fever feels like a cold, especially if it continues for a long period of time and symptoms get worse.

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    Treatment Options Allergen Immunotherapy

    Allergen immunotherapy is also known as desensitisation, and it reduces the severity of symptoms and/or the need for regular medications. AIT involves the administration of regular, gradually increasing amounts of environmental allergen extracts, by injections or by sublingual tablets, sprays or drops .

    Treatment is usually for three to five years and is typically offered for people older than five years of age with severe allergic rhinitis. This is a long-term treatment that should be initiated by a clinical immunology/allergy specialist.

    ASCIA is the peak professional body of clinical immunology/allergy specialists in Australia and New Zealand.

    ASCIA resources are based on published literature and expert review, however, they are not intended to replace medical advice. The content of ASCIA resources is not influenced by any commercial organisations.

    For more information go to

    To donate to immunology/allergy research go to


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