Summer is probably one of the most-awaited seasons for kids and adults alike. It means spending time with family, swimming in the beach, or traveling. But because the mornings are super hot and the evenings are cold, some of us suffer from itchy eyes, runny nose, and constant sneezing. These are the symptoms of hay fever.
What is Hay Fever?
Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is a frequent condition that can be seen around the different parts of the world, especially during the spring and summer seasons. It is caused by an allergy to pollens from trees, weeds, and grass, which are wind-pollinated plants. This eventually leads to swelling of the nose (rhinitis) and eyes (conjunctivitis). The throat is also affected sometimes. Ironically, a person with hay fever is not at all allergic to hay and doesn’t have a fever!
How Do You Know it’s Hay Fever?
Hay fever is very much alike to the common cold, only that it lasts weeks or months, compared to cold which lasts only a few days. Here’s a comparison of symptoms between hay fever and the common cold:
|Symptoms||Allergic Rhinitis||Common Cold|
|Duration||Weeks or months||Seven to ten days|
|Nasal discharge||Watery and clear||Thick and sometimes colored|
Watery and itchy eyes
Who Gets It?
Anyone can actually get hay fever. Currently, around 17 million adults and 6.6 million kids have been documented to have hay fever every year in the US. It usually runs in the family, and those who were exposed to smoking during their childhood are at a greater risk of getting it. About 50% of adults report that their symptoms slowly waned as they grew older, and about a third claim that their symptoms have disappeared.
How Can I Prevent It?
Avoidance is one of the most effective ways of getting hay fever, although no one can really avoid pollen totally. A person who is allergic to pollens should find ways to limit or reduce his exposure to these allergens. Don’t walk on grassy areas as this might worsen symptoms. Keep your car doors and windows shut especially when there’s high pollen count. Also, remember to wear sunglasses when you’re out to minimize exposure of the eyes to pollen. Other tips for preventing hay fever are the following:
- Avoid going out during bad pollen times of day, which is usually around 5 to 10 in the morning. While you’re inside, it’s best to use the air conditioner if possible, to keep the atmosphere dry.
- Stay away from places where there’s smell of fresh paint, insect sprays, or strong room deodorants, as these chemicals aggravate the symptoms of hay fever. Staying away from smoky places such as barbeque or grill houses is also recommended.
- It is interesting to know that the ordinary air humidifiers that we usually use to get rid of dust in our house have very little effect and don’t prevent or stop allergens from invading our homes. Studies suggest that the HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting) filter is a powerful unit that can effectively trap pollen, dust and other airborne particles that increase hay fever symptoms.
What Are Some Ways to Treat It?
For medical treatment options, the most commonly used are antihistamine nasal sprays and eye drops. Loratadine and cetirizine are some popular antihistamines that you can buy over the counter, while propionate, mometasone and budesonide are nasal corticosteroids that are available in pharmacies and are effective in helping alleviate the symptoms of hay fever.