Is It Really Hay Fever?
When you are suffering from sneezing, runny nose
Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, strikes between 10-30% of people worldwide. It’s incidence in the US is lower, at a little less than 8% of Americans over the age of 18.
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to an allergen such as dust or pollen. It causes inflammation of the mucus membranes of the nose and eyes. The inflammatory response of the body is what causes the itching, watering eyes, runny nose
These can also be symptoms of other conditions as well. So it is always a good idea if you are suffering from these symptoms to ask yourself “is it really hay fever?”
The symptoms of hay fever are commonly confused with other condition. If you aren’t sure of the cause of the symptoms it is wise to visit your doctor. Although hay fever is generally not considered dangerous, it can trigger allergic asthma if left untreated.
The Common Cold
It is often hard to differentiate hay fever from the common cold. You can suffer from similar symptoms with both conditions.
Cold symptoms occur because you have a viral infection. Your body attacks the invading virus by increasing mucus production, raising your body temperature (fever), as well as a host of other defense mechanisms. You “catch” a cold by being exposed to the virus. On the other hand, you cannot “catch” hay fever from someone. Allergies lie within your own body and they are not contagious.
Hay fever happens when your body reacts to an allergen which you have become sensitized to. Your body reacts to the allergens as if they were invading bacteria or viruses. This is why the symptoms are similar.
Some have suggested just waiting out the symptoms. If it is a cold the symptoms are usually short-lived, whereas hay fever may last longer than a week or two depending on the season and the things you are allergic to. If the symptoms last longer than two weeks it is probably hay fever. A cold will usually resolve within 7-14 days.
A better way to distinguish between the two is that a cold will not give you itching in the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, ears or throat. On the other hand, muscle aches and fever are usually the sign of a more widespread infection, and it is probably a cold.
The other illness which can mimic hay fever is asthma. You can have many of the signs and symptoms of hay fever if you have asthma.
If you have allergic asthma being exposed to hay fever triggers can also trigger an asthma attack.
Your doctor may ask you to increase your dose of your controller, or anti-inflammatory medication during allergy season if you have allergic asthma.
Many patients know when allergy season is approaching after a while and they know when to increase the dose of anti-inflammatory medication. However, you still need to talk to your doctor and develop a plan with him/her for dealing with these times of year.
Sometimes pollen season will trigger an increase in asthma symptoms for one person, while another person may have increased symptoms from the cold winter air, or increased exercise when the days get warmer.
Hay fever is a common ailment but it can be treated and controlled if you work with your doctor. Many times all it takes is over the counter remedies to help you through hay fever season. Just be aware that there are other things that can cause the same symptoms.
If the condition stays with you for longer than two weeks, or you have any trouble breathing, you should see your doctor right away. it is always a good idea to ask the question “is it really hay fever”.