Hay Fever – Its Symptoms and How to Deal with It
For many, the spring season means allergies, especially hay fever (pollen allergy). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19.9 million U.S. adults have been diagnosed with hay fever over the past 12 months. It affects up to 30 percent of people worldwide.
Hay fever symptoms are similar to a cold. They include:
- Runny nose
- Sinus pressure
- Post-nasal drip
- Burning, itchy eyes, nose, and throat
- In severe cases, sinus and ear infections, as well as asthma symptoms (shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness)
The difference is that hay fever is not caused by a virus. It is an allergic reaction to those indoor and outdoor allergens that we breathe in every day, such as pollen, dust and even pet dander.
During the warm-weather months, increased tree and grass pollen, fungi, and molds can bring on hay fever. Some people may have these symptoms all year-round, but spring tends to be the worst months for those affected by it. If left untreated, hay fever can cause ear and sinus infections, as well as asthma symptoms, such as shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness. Along with making you feel miserable, hay fever can affect your performance at work or school and generally interfere with your life.
What can you do to reduce the severity of symptoms from hay fever? Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Keep your windows closed during high pollen periods.
- Run your air conditioning to filter out pollen, mold and dust particulates in both your home and car.
- Take an allergy test, such as a skin scratch or blood test, for environmental allergens that may be the source of your hay fever.
- Take allergy medication to alleviate symptoms.
- Avoid substances that cause your reaction. If you are exposed, take a shower or wash your hands to remove any allergens.
- Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to keep pollen out of your eyes.
- Over-the-counter medications, such as anti-histamines, saline sinus rinses or decongestants can be used for less severe hay fever.
- In severe cases, your doctor may recommend prescription medications or allergy injections.
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