Nose And Eye Allergies: Age Of Onset
- Seasonal pollen allergies usually begin at age 2 to 5 years.
- The symptoms peak in school age children, teens and young adults.
- Pollen symptoms are rare in children under age 2. They require at least 2 seasons of exposure to the pollen.
- Children under age 2 who have chronic nasal symptoms have other causes. Examples are recurrent colds, large adenoids or cow’s milk allergy.
- Food allergies can start during the first year of life, but not pollen allergies.
How Do You Prevent Allergies
To help keep your hay fever under control, you can:
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About Hay Fever
Although hay fever doesnt cause any serious health problems, you should see your provider to rule out other conditions, such as asthma. Seek care if hay fever symptoms are getting in the way of your daily life or making it hard for you to sleep. Your provider can help you identify the allergens that are causing a reaction and recommend treatments to help you feel better.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Hay fever symptoms can affect your quality of life and keep you from doing the activities you love, but effective treatments are available. Millions of adults and children manage hay fever with medications and lifestyle changes. Talk to your provider about steps you can take to relieve symptoms, breathe easier and feel better.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/30/2020.
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Rhinitis . Accessed 9/1/2021.
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology . Rhinitis Overview. Accessed 9/1/2021.
- InformedHealth.org . Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care 2006-. Hay fever: Allergen-specific immunotherapy in the treatment of allergies. Accessed 9/1/2021.
- Wheatley LM, Togias A. Allergic Rhinitis. N Engl J Med. 2015 Jan 29 372:456-463. Accessed 9/1/2021.
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Triggers Of Nasal Allergies
- Cause. An allergic reaction of the nose and sinuses to an inhaled substance. The medical name for this is allergic rhinitis. The allergic substance is called an allergen.
- Most allergens float in the air. That’s how they get in the nose. Here are the common ones:
- Pollens. Trees, grass, weeds and molds are the most common pollens. Tree pollens come in the spring. Grass pollens come in the summer. Weed pollens come in the fall. Pollens cause seasonal allergies. You can’t avoid pollens because they are in the air. Most nasal allergies continue through the pollen season. They can last 4 to 8 weeks. Pollens cause seasonal allergic rhinitis. This is also called hay fever.
- Pets. Allergens can also be from cats, dogs, horses, rabbits and other animals. Most people don’t keep a pet that they are allergic to. They only have sporadic allergy symptoms when they are exposed to that specific animal. These symptoms will usually last a few hours. If someone with a cat visits you, they will bring cat dander with them. This will cause brief symptoms. If you own the pet, though, your child will have symptoms all the time.
- House Dust. House dust contains many allergens. It always contains dust mites. If your humidity is high, it will contain mold. House dust causes year round, daily symptoms. The medical name for this is perennial allergic rhinitis.
What Happens When You Have An Allergic Reaction
Allergists recognize four types of allergic reactions: Type I or anaphylactic reactions, type II or cytotoxic reactions, type III or immunocomplex reactions and type IV or cell-mediated reactions.
Allergic reactions are exaggerated sensitivities that occur when your immune system responds abnormally to common substances such as pollen, dust and certain foods.
These substances, called allergens, are harmless in a majority of people. But for those who are allergic, they can cause reactions upon skin contact or when they are breathed, swallowed or injected.
Allergic reactions are quite common and may happen seconds to hours after contact with the allergen. Some reactions may take more than 24 hours to appear. Though many allergic reactions are mild, others may be dangerous or life-threatening. They may be localized, involving a small part of the body or may affect a large area or the whole body.
An allergic reaction begins when you touch, inhale or swallow an allergen. In response to this trigger, the body starts making a type of protein called IgE or immunoglobulin E.
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How Do Health Care Professionals Diagnose Allergic Rhinitis How Do Health Care Professionals Identify Allergies
Typically, allergies are initially diagnosed by a combination of characteristic symptoms coupled with exam findings that correspond with allergies.
If a person is experiencing the typical symptoms of hay fever, a consultation with an allergy specialist can help identify the offending substances. Since the ideal way to manage an allergy is to avoid the substances that cause allergic reaction, it is important to first identify these substances . Many allergens can be suspected from information obtained in a patient’s history. For example, if symptoms usually worsen with exposure to cats, then cat dander protein is a probable allergen causing the symptoms. If cutting grass is associated with the onset of symptoms, then grass allergy is probable. A patient’s history of reactions is important in determining his/her unique allergies. Allergy testing is only done when allergies are debilitating enough that patients desire allergy immunotherapy.
Because the identification of allergens is important and often difficult to pinpoint, skin testing is often needed to identify exactly the specific substance causing the allergy. Skin testing is done with minimal discomfort and is performed as follows:
The first-generation antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine , chlorpheniramine , dimenhydrinate , brompheniramine , clemastine fumarate , and dexbrompheniramine frequently cause mouth dryness and sleepiness as side effects.
Hay Fever Management And Treatment
Avoid triggers by making changes to your home and to your behavior.
- Keep windows closed during high pollen periods use air conditioning in your home and car.
- Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to keep pollen out of your eyes.
- Use mite-proof bedding covers to limit exposure to dust mites and a dehumidifier to control mold. .
- Wash your hands after petting any animal, and have a nonallergic person help with pet grooming, preferably in a well-ventilated area or outside.
What people dont realize is most of the over-the-counter medicines are designed for milder allergies. For the people who have more moderate to severe allergy problems, its very rare that over the counter medicines are enough.
Allergist James Sublett, MD
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Care Advice For Nose Allergies Or Hay Fever
Symptoms Of Allergic Rhinitis
Your symptoms can vary, depending on the severity of your allergies. Symptoms can include:
- Itching .
- Runny nose.
- Pressure in the nose and cheeks.
- Ear fullness and popping.
- Watery, red, or swollen eyes.
- Dark circles under your eyes.
- Trouble smelling.
Allergic rhinitis can last several weeks, longer than a cold or the flu. It does not cause fever. The nasal discharge from hay fever is thin, watery, and clear. Nasal discharge from a cold or the flu tends to be thicker. Itching is common with hay fever but not with a cold or the flu. Sneezing occurs more with hay fever. You may even have severe sneeze attacks.
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How Can I Prevent An Allergic Reaction To Pollen
There are actions you can take to reduce allergic reactions to pollen:
- Limit your outdoor activities when pollen counts are high. This will lessen the amount of pollen allergen you inhale and reduce your symptoms.
- Keep windows closed during pollen season and use central air conditioning with a CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® filter attachment. This applies to your home and to any vehicle .
- Start taking allergy medicine before pollen season begins. Most allergy medicines work best when taken this way. This allows the medicine to prevent your body from releasing histamine and other chemicals that cause your symptoms.
- Bathe and shampoo your hair daily before going to bed. This will remove pollen from your hair and skin and keep it off your bedding.
- Wash bedding in hot, soapy water once a week.
- Wear sunglasses and a hat. This will help keep pollen out of your eyes and off your hair.
- Limit close contact with pets that spend a lot of time outdoors.
- Change and wash clothes worn during outdoor activities.
- Dry your clothes in a clothes dryer, not on an outdoor line.
Look for this mark to find products proven more suitable for people with asthma and allergies. Find CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® products on our Certification program website.
How To Tell Seasonal Nasal Allergies From The Common Cold
- Symptoms happen during pollen season
- Had the same symptoms during the same month last year
- Hay fever symptoms last 6-8 weeks for each pollen. .
- Allergies: itchy eyes and nose. Not seen with colds.
- Colds: fever and/or sore throat. Not seen with allergies
- Both: runny nose and watery eyes. Can also have a cough with both, but less common with allergies.
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Treatment For Asthma From Pollen Allergies
If you have asthma caused by pollens, your doctor will prescribe the correct medication and help you to develop a plan to manage your asthma. Make sure you follow your asthma action plan.
Asthma can be well controlled with the appropriate medication in almost all people. The main types of medication are:
- Relievers act quickly to relax the muscles around the airways. This is the medication used during an asthma attack.
- Preventers slowly make the airways less sensitive to allergy triggers and reduce inflammation inside the airways. These are taken daily.
- Combination therapies preventers containing 2 different medications.
If you have an asthma attack, follow your asthma action plan. In case of emergency, call triple zero and ask for an ambulance. Tell the operator that someone is having an asthma attack.
The signs of an emergency include when the person:
- finds it very difficult to breathe
- is unable to speak comfortably or if their lips are turning blue
- has symptoms that get worse very quickly
- is getting little or no relief from their reliever inhaler.
While waiting for the ambulance, give 4 puffs of reliever medication every 4 minutes.
A Brief History Of Allergies
Allergies were discovered over 150 years ago, however despite historical developments mankind is still searching for a cure.
How an Allergic Reaction Works
In 1859, Charles Harrison Blackley sneezed. A doctor in Manchester, England, Blackley suffered from what were called summer colds, with seasonal sneezing, watery eyes, and a runny nose. The idea of hay fever had been around for some time, but Blackley was passionate about discovering its cause: heat was one popular theory of the time, ozone another. However, Blackley realized that it was neither ozone nor heat making him sneeze but pollen, and he went on to prove itlargely by experimenting on himself.
Allergies are not new. Its possible that our immune systems have always overreacted to certain innocuous substances, going into overdrive and producing allergic symptoms such as swelling, rashes, red eyes, runny noses, and shortness of breath. Such reactions have been described in historical documents with asthma symptoms recorded in ancient China, Rome, Egypt, and Greece, from where the word asthma comes, meaning panting. But while allergies are not new, our modern understanding of them is.
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Dust Mite Allergy Management And Treatment
Make changes to your home and to your routine:
- Remove wall-to-wall carpets, curtains, and drapes particularly in the bedroom.
- Keep pets out of the bedroom, and preferably out of the house.
- Minimize household humidity.
- Use mite-proof cases on mattresses and pillows wash bed linens frequently in hot water.
- Wear a mask when cleaning
- Keep the relative humidity in your home less than 50%
How Is Hay Fever Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will examine you, ask about your symptoms and evaluate you for other conditions, such as a cold or asthma. To measure your antibodies to specific allergens, your provider may take a blood sample and send it to a lab for testing. This blood test is called an immunoglobulin E test. It can detect all types of allergies, including food allergies.
Your provider may recommend a skin prick test to determine what allergens are causing your symptoms.
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Herbal Medicines And Allergies
Asteraceae is a family of flowering plants, including many common species, and some are used in herbal medicines. Pollen from plants in this family is a common cause of hay fever, asthma and dermatitis.
Plants from the Asteraceae family include:
- plants grown for their flowers chrysanthemums, dahlias, sunflowers, marigolds, safflower and daisies
- edible foliage plants lettuce, safflower, chicory and artichoke
- weeds ragweed, mugwort, sagebrush, wormwood, feverfew
- plants used in some herbal medicines echinacea, dandelion, chamomile, feverfew, milk thistle and wormwood.
Pollen from plants in the Asteraceae family can also cause an allergic skin reaction on contact. The pollen can be found in herbal medicines, shampoos, cosmetics and massage oils, and includes pollen from plants such as the:
Sensitisation to pollen of plants from the Asteraceae family has also been linked with allergic reactions to other substances that are similar. This is known as cross-reactivity and has caused allergic reactions to:
- plant-derived herbal medicines echinacea, royal jelly, bee pollen extracts and chamomile
- foods celery, honey, sunflower seeds, carrot, lettuce, watermelon and nuts.
Why Does An Allergic Reaction Occur
An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system attacks a usually harmless substance called an allergen that gains access to the body. The immune system calls upon a protective substance called immunoglobulin E antibodies to fight these invading allergic substances or allergens. Even though everyone has some IgE, an allergic person has an unusually large amount of IgE. This army of IgE antibodies attacks and engages the invading army of allergic substances of allergens.
Specialized cells called mast cells also participate in the allergic reaction. Mast cells release a variety of chemicals into the tissues and blood, one of which is known as histamine. These chemicals frequently cause allergic reactions. These chemicals are very irritating and cause itching, swelling, and fluid leaking from cells. Through various mechanisms, these allergic chemicals can cause muscle spasm and can lead to lung and throat tightening as is found in asthma and loss of voice .
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Pollen Allergies Are Seasonal
The season for pollen allergies can last for several months and occurs when the plants are flowering. This will vary depending on location and the type of plant. For instance:
- Non-native trees tend to pollinate in late winter and spring.
- In Victoria, winds from the north tend to bring pollen from non-native grasses growing inland between October and December.
- White Cypress pine is the only Australian tree that produces highly allergenic pollen and it flowers approximately between late July and the end of August.
- Species of Casuarina or Australian oak trees produce pollen throughout the year and can cause hay fever symptoms at any time.
Clinical immunology/allergy specialists who diagnose allergies have online calendars showing when common species of pollen cause allergies in the states and territories of Australia.
What Causes Allergic Rhinitis
You have an allergy when your body overreacts to things that dont cause problems for most people. These things are called allergens. If you have allergies, your body releases chemicals when you are exposed to an allergen. One such chemical is called histamine. Histamine is your bodys defense against the allergen. The release of histamine causes your symptoms.
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen. Pollen comes from flowering trees, grass, and weeds. If you are allergic to pollen, you will notice your symptoms are worse on hot, dry days when wind carries the pollen. On rainy days, pollen often is washed to the ground, which means you are less likely to breathe it.
- Allergies that occur in the spring are often due to tree pollen.
- Allergies that occur in the summer are often due to grass and weed pollen.
- Allergies that occur in the fall are often due to ragweed.
Allergens that can cause perennial allergic rhinitis include:
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