Hay fever symptoms : a reaction from an oversensitive immune system


Hay fever symptoms are caused by an allergic rhinitis, predominantly in the nose and eyes, triggered by plant pollens in people who are allergic to these substances.

Allergies are caused by an oversensitive immune system, leading to a misdirected immune response. The immune system normally protects the body against harmful substances such as bacteria and viruses. Allergy occurs when the immune system reacts to substances (allergens) that are generally harmless and in most people do not cause an immune response.

As noted above, hay fever symptoms involve an allergic reaction to pollen. A virtually identical reaction occurs with allergy to mold, animal dander, dust, and similar inhaled allergens.

The pollens that cause hay fever vary from person to person and from region to region. Large, visible pollens are seldom responsible for hay fever. Tiny, hard to see pollens more often cause hay fever symptoms. Examples of plants commonly responsible for hay fever include:

  • Trees (deciduous and evergreen)
  • Grasses
  • Most flowers
  • Ragweed
In addition to individual sensitivity and geographic differences in local plant populations, the amount of pollen in the air can be a factor in whether hay fever symptoms develop. Hot, dry, windy days are more likely to have increased amounts of pollen in the air than cool, damp, rainy days when most pollen is washed to the ground.

When an allergen such as pollen or dust is inhaled by a person with a sensitized immune system, it triggers antibody production. These antibodies bind to cells that contain histamine. When the antibodies are stimulated by pollen and dust, histamine (and other chemicals) are released. This causes itching, swelling, and mucus production. Symptoms vary in severity from person to person. Very sensitive individuals can experience hives or other rashes.

Some disorders may be associated with allergies. These include eczema and asthma, among others.

Allergies are common. Heredity and environmental exposures may contribute to a predisposition to allergies.

Hay fever symptoms

  • Coughing
  • Headache
  • Itching nose, mouth, eyes, throat, skin, or any area
  • Runny nose
  • Impaired smell
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose (nasal congestion)
  • Tearing eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Wheezing

The history of the person's symptoms is important in diagnosing allergic rhinitis, including whether the hay fever symptoms vary according to time of day or the season; exposure to pets or other allergens; and diet changes.

Allergy testing may reveal the specific allergens the person is reacting to. Skin testing is the most common method of allergy testing. This may include intradermal, scratch, patch, or other tests. Less commonly, the suspected allergen is dissolved and dropped onto the lower eyelid as a means of testing for allergies. (This test should only be done by a physician, never the patient, since it can be harmful if done improperly.)

In certain individuals who cannot undergo skin testing (as determined by the doctor), the RAST blood test may be helpful in determining specific allergen sensitivity.

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to reduce allergy symptoms caused by the inflammation of affected tissues.

The best "treatment" is to avoid what causes your hay fever symptoms in the first place. It may be impossible to completely avoid all allergens to which you are sensitive, but you can often take steps to reduce exposure.

The most appropriate medication depends on the type and severity of symptoms. However, some tend to cause drowsiness or affect learning in children. Specific illnesses that are caused by allergies (such as asthma and eczema) may require other treatments.

Allergy shots (immunotherapy) are occasionally recommended if the allergen cannot be avoided and if hay fever symptoms are hard to control. This includes regular injections of the allergen, given in increasing doses (each dose is slightly larger than the previous dose) that may help the body adjust to the antigen.

Prevention

Hay fever symptoms can sometimes be prevented by avoiding known allergens. During the pollen season, people with hay fever should remain indoors in an air-conditioned atmosphere whenever possible.

Our personal suggestion for an effective treatment of
hay fever symptoms


______________________________________________________________

Please read the Usage Agreement carefully before using this website. If you do not agree to all provisions found in the Usage Agreement then do not use this website. By using this website you are agreeing to the provisions found in the Usage Agreement.

Usage Agreement

footer for hay fever symptoms page