Hay Fever. Allergic Rhinitis. The Spring Sniffles.
No matter what you call it, the struggle of seasonal allergies is the same. If you battle hay fever every year, you probably feel a little skeptical about the arrival of spring. After all, those beautiful blooms and balmy breezes bring tough allergy symptoms that make it hard to enjoy getting out of bed, much less spending time outdoors.
But what exactly is hay fever and why does spring seem to wield it as a weapon? Most importantly, what can you do about it? The answers to these questions can help you nip hay fever in the bud so you can enjoy a sweet, symptom-free spring.
About Hay Fever
Despite the name, hay fever doesn’t involve hay or fever. Hay fever is the common term for Allergic Rhinitis, or seasonal allergies. It occurs when your immune system attacks a normally harmless substance you come into contact with, causing an allergic reaction. In the case of spring allergies, these substances include mold spores and pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds.
Hay Fever Symptoms
Although hay fever isn’t a serious threat to your health, it can seriously affect your quality of life. Symptoms of hay fever are similar to those of a cold and can range from mild to severe.
Hay Fever common causes:
- Itchy or Watery Eyes
- Runny or Stuffy Nose (Nasal Congestion)
- Facial Pain or Pressure
- Itchy Mouth or Throat
Those with severe symptoms may also experience fatigue, insomnia, headache, increased mucus, sore throat, or a mild cough. Patients with asthma are at increased risk of hay fever and may experience trouble breathing, wheezing, or chest pain.
Hay Fever Treatments
Treatment includes avoiding known triggers and managing symptoms with rest and, if needed, medications.
Avoidance. The first approach to treating hay fever is limiting your exposure to outdoor allergens. Locking yourself indoors isn’t realistic (or healthy), but you can take steps like wearing long clothing and sunglasses, keeping windows and doors closed whenever possible, showering after spending time outdoors, and washing your clothes and bedding frequently. It’s also a good idea to check local pollen counts during peak allergy season and stay indoors when pollen levels are high.
Medications. Many allergy medications are available over the counter, but some require a prescription. Common medications include intranasal corticosteroids, antihistamines, and decongestants. Each medication carries a risk of side effects, so speak to your doctor at Urgent Care of Fairhope before starting any new allergy regiment.
Immunotherapy. If treatment isn’t working or your symptoms are severe, you may benefit from allergy immunotherapy. This involves introducing small amounts of a known allergen into the body over time to slowly build immunity to the substance.
When to see a Doctor
In most cases, hay fever can be properly treated at home without medical intervention. If your symptoms are severe or aren’t reduced with OTC medications, a visit to Urgent Care of Fairhope may be in order. You should also see a doctor if you have fever, a productive or ‘wet’ cough, or body aches, as these symptoms indicate a respiratory infection that may need treatment. Appointments are not needed at our Fairhope urgent care office.