The list of not so debilitating but very annoying disease is incomplete without the mention of hay fever. Hay fever is also called as allergic rhinitis. Hay fever is a distant cousin of the common cold, and share a lot of things in common – like a runny nose, itchy eyes, nasal congestion and sinus pressure. Contrary to the popular myth, you don’t get hay fever because you work in the fields. It is a common allergic response to the airborne substances like pollen, dust mite, particles of animal fur or soft toys, bird feathers, etc. Some people develop hay fever because of the seasonal changes, and a few unfortunate ones have to put up with this hassle throughout the year. This disease affects up to 30 percent population of the world, nearly 10% of the children and 8% of the adults develop this condition. In India, it is estimated that 25% of the population suffers from allergic rhinitis, among them, one in every five suffers pollen allergies.
Causes of hay fever:
Hay fever is caused when the person is exposed to the allergic substances present in the air. When the person comes in contact with the harmless allergen pollen grains, it triggers the body’s immune system by sending it signals. Once it receives these signals, the immune system releases chemicals like histamine and leukotrienes into the bloodstream that inflame the nasal passage, lining of our sinuses and ensure that the pathogen does not enter the body. As a result of this inflammation and congestion in the lining of the sinuses, hay fever is caused.
Symptoms of hay fever:
Depending on which allergens an individual is sensitive to, symptoms of the hay fever may vary. When the pollen count is high in the air, individuals allergic to pollen experience more severe symptoms. Hay fever may include any or all of the following symptoms
- Persistence of sneezing
- Stuffy, runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Severe exhaustion
- Watery, itchy eyes
- Shortness of breathing
Treatment for hay fever:
Hay fever is just a minor inconvenience that can be managed with help of the over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications, and by minimizing the exposure to the allergens. The treatment includes the following
Antihistamines: Antihistamines like loratadine, cetirizine, etc. are available in the form of nasal sprays, pills, and eye drops. These antihistamines stop the release of the chemical histamine into the bloodstream. This can help with the sneezing, runny nose, and itching but can do very little about congestion.
Nasal corticosteriods: Nasal corticosteroid sprays are popular for being effective in giving immediate relief. These sprays help and treat the nasal inflammation, itching and runny nose caused by hay fever. Examples of nasal corticosteroids include fluticasone, triamcinolone, mometasone, etc.
Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is for the people with severe sensitivity for the allergens. This therapy includes administering allergy shots or sublingual drops over the period of three to five years. This prepares you for the lasting resistance to the allergy symptoms, and prevent the development of asthma