Hay fever is an allergic response. Allergies are reactions to foreign proteins that stimulate the immune system. However, doctors treat them by blocking those immune responses. Immunotherapy (allergy shots) works slowly over many years by desensitizing people against the allergy. This treatment introduces small amounts of the allergen into the body to create antibodies that block the foreign protein. It is why allergy shots are so effective when done properly. Nevertheless, consult your doctor for hay fever solutions if you have its symptoms.
What is hay fever?
Hay fever is the common term for seasonal allergies due to pollen. Its other name is Allergic rhinitis. However, the condition is an IgE-mediated response of the respiratory system to foreign proteins called allergens. It occurs when irritants present in the environment during certain times of the year are inhaled into your nasal passages and airways, causing an allergic reaction. Moreover, common symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose, itchy and red eyes. In some severe cases, hay fever leads to asthma attacks.
Symptoms usually start in early spring or late summer. Pollen levels tend to be high during this time. However, the time range for allergic rhinitis starts as early as winter and can last until late fall.
What are the causes of hay fever?
This disease is an allergic reaction. It often occurs during seasonal changes of the year. During hay fever season, many people with allergies to certain pollens and spores experience uncomfortable symptoms. They may include itchy eyes, runny noses, and sneezing.
Nevertheless, your doctor may rule out the cause. He or she may begin with your hay fever treatment while considering your condition.
When pollen-allergens (tree pollen, grass pollen, or weed pollen) become airborne and are inhaled by the individual, they cause the body’s immune system to release histamine. However, histamine is responsible for some of the allergic rhinitis symptoms. They include sneezing and itching in certain areas of the body, for example, eyes, nose.
What can trigger hay fever?
This allergic reaction results due to a pollen allergy. Moreover, this disease can also take place by allergies to the substances, such as dust mites, mold spores, and cockroaches.
When these allergens are inhaled or come in contact with the skin, they cause the immune system to release histamine. Furthermore, it causes hay fever symptoms. Certain factors can trigger allergic rhinitis. They are-
- Cold weather and windy conditions
- Extreme temperatures (hot or cold)
- Strong sunlight
- Alcohol consumption
It is important to note that many people are sensitive to more than one allergen. Therefore, they may experience symptoms from more than one cause. Avoid these triggers to support your hay fever solutions.
Hay fever symptoms depend on the individual and their sensitiveness to a certain allergen. In addition, the symptoms can also differ from person to person. The reason being each individual reacts differently to allergens. Symptoms you might experience include-
- Itchy eyes
- Runny nose
- Nasal dripping
- Itchy throat or palate
- Fluid buildup in the sinuses
- Dry coughs and sore throat
People tend to experience these symptoms at specific times of the year, depending on the allergen they are allergic to. For example, pollen is common during the spring and summer months. Therefore, your symptoms might only occur during this time of the year.
For some people with seasonal allergies, their symptoms might be severe enough to interfere with daily life. In these cases, doctors may prescribe medication to help manage your symptoms.
Allergic rhinitis symptoms are similar to the symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection (URI). Therefore, it is vital to talk to your GP if you are uncertain of the cause of your symptoms. Your hay fever solutions may begin accordingly.
What can you do to manage your condition?
There are many treatment options available, which can help manage your symptoms. Allergies are very individualistic. Therefore, your specific needs may tailor your treatments.
In addition to using a medication, there are some things you can try at home to help manage your symptoms. However, they are-
- Close the windows during the pollen season.
In summer, try to keep windows open when the air conditioner is on. Closing doors and windows can prevent pollen from entering your home.
Keep your bedroom and car windows closed while you sleep and while you are driving. It can prevent pollen from entering these spaces. Moreover, you can also use an air conditioner in these areas instead of opening the windows.
- Do not keep your clothes outside to dry.
If possible, dry your clothes inside out in a well-ventilated room. Doing so may prevent pollens from sticking to your clothes and support your hay fever solutions.
- Shower soon after being outdoors.
Pollen can stick to your hair and skin. Therefore, do not wear the same clothes you wore outside. They can transfer live pollen into your home or car, which will cause a reaction if you are extremely sensitive to pollen.
- Reduce outdoor activity during the peak pollen season.
Try going for a walk or run later in the day, after pollen counts have dropped.
- Eat local honey.
Some experts believe that eating small amounts of honey produced locally can help build up immunity to pollen. Moreover, it may also reduce your symptoms.
Many people find alternative treatments (such as acupuncture) very effective for managing their allergy symptoms. However, your GP can refer you to a registered acupuncturist if they think this form of treatment might be beneficial to you.
What medications can help relieve your condition?
- Allergen immunotherapy
Allergen immunotherapy (AIT) is a treatment that involves regular injections of small amounts of the substances to which an individual has allergies. With time, these injections build up your tolerance to the allergen and your allergy symptoms decrease or disappear completely. Nevertheless, this hay fever remedies is not suitable for everyone and can take up to two years to be effective.
- Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT)
This treatment involves placing a small tablet under the tongue (sublingually). It contains particles of the substance you are allergic to. SLIT is considered safer than traditional AIT. The reason being there is no risk of anaphylaxis. Moreover, it does not cause side effects such as skin rashes. SLIT tablets are currently still in development. Therefore, they are not yet available for widespread use.
These medications can help reduce symptoms, such as sneezing, a runny nose, nasal congestion, and itchy eyes. They are effective for short-term relief only. Moreover, they can cause drowsiness or other side effects. If you feel antihistamines do not adequately control your symptoms, discuss alternative options with your GP.
Medication containing corticosteroids (steroid medications) is available over the counter in some countries. However, they are available only on doctor’s prescriptions in some countries. This medication can relieve symptoms, such as nasal congestion, runny nose, and sneezing. Steroid medications work faster than antihistamines. However, it can take up to two days before you start noticing an improvement in your symptoms. This hay fever solutions can cause side effects such as stomach upset, vomiting, or worsening of asthma symptoms. Therefore, you should not take them for more than a few days at a time.
These medications can help shrink the lining of your nose to relieve nasal congestion. Decongestants are effective within 30 minutes. However, they can cause side effects such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, or insomnia in some people. You should not use antihistamines and decongestants together. They can lead to drowsiness, increased heart rate, and other problems.
- Prescription nasal sprays
These are available by prescription only in most countries. They work by reducing swelling inside the nose. Moreover, they also open up the air passages to relieve congestion. These medications have few side effects. Nevertheless, they may irritate the nose and cause nosebleeds.
- Allergy drops
They can treat allergies to pets and can be placed directly into your pet’s food every day. However, if you are allergic to more than one animal, this hay fever remedies is not suitable for you.
What else can help?
- Air filters
If your symptoms are particularly troublesome inside the house, using an air filter can help reduce indoor pollen and dust levels. There is currently no conclusive medical evidence that air purifiers have a beneficial effect on hay fever symptoms. However, it might be helpful to use one in the bedroom at night if you are very sensitive to dust.
- Organic diet
Cutting out certain foods from your diet may help reduce your symptoms. Allergy UK recommends trying an elimination diet for a few weeks if your symptoms are not controlled by medication. If you notice a difference, try reintroducing the food into your diet one at a time to see if it is triggering your symptoms.
- Cold compresses
Moistening a clean cloth with cold water and applying it to the inside of your nose for five minutes several times per day can soothe nasal discomfort. Cold compresses may support your hay fever solutions. However, never place ice directly on your skin, as this could cause injury.
- Avoiding pollen
Try to stay inside with the doors when pollen levels are high and close the windows. If you have a pet, keep it indoors as much as possible on high-pollen days. Moreover, when taking your pet for a walk in the park, follow paths where there is less grass. The reason being grass pollen can be irritating to allergic people.
- Using a face mask
If your symptoms are particularly troublesome, consider buying an umbrella with a large hood or using a face mask for extra protection. Moreover, some masks have special filters that can trap pollen grains before they enter your nose. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for wearing these devices correctly, so you do not accidentally inhale any pollen.
- Goggles or sunglasses
When you are outdoors, wearing goggles or sunglasses with side panels to protect the sides of your nose can help filter pollen from entering your eyes. However, do not wear regular glasses, which do little to reduce exposure to airborne particles. If you are extremely sensitive, consider keeping contact lenses out of your eyes on high-pollen days. Using goggles or sunglasses can help with your hay fever solutions.
How can you prevent allergic rhinitis?
Hay fever can occur due to a pollen allergy. It makes the nose swell and runs, resulting in itchy eyes, sneezing, and difficulty breathing. Nevertheless, several things can prevent this disease-
- Wear sunglasses and a hat, which covers your face. It can protect your eyes and nose from pollen in the air.
- Keep windows closed when pollen levels are high outside. It is usually during the early morning, late afternoon, and early evening.
- Do not let kids play with their toys in rooms where open windows have allowed pollen to blow in.
- Rinse your eyes if they get itchy or inflamed. Moreover, bathe them with a clean washcloth dipped in cold water. You can also use a cool saltwater solution for the same.
- Increase your intake of vitamin C. It can reduce your symptoms and support your hay fever solutions.
- Cleanse your tresses before going to bed.
- Use smokeless tobacco if you do not have allergies or asthma.
- Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, which are rich in quercetin. It is an antioxidant that may have anti-inflammatory effects on the respiratory tract. Furthermore, they also improve lung function.
- Nasal irrigation can help reduce your symptoms by washing pollen out of your nose.
- Get some sun during the day.
- Try eating more foods such as beef, lamb, venison, and mushrooms (shiitake, maitake, and portabellos), which contain selenium.
- Take a warm shower before bedtime. It can help open up your sinuses and relieve your symptoms.
- Swap your bedroom for a basement room if you can.
- Eat dried fruits such as prunes, figs, and apricots for at least a couple of hours before going to bed.
- Drink plenty of water before going to take a nap.
These preventive measures can assist in putting off the risk of allergic rhinitis. Moreover, they can support your hay fever solutions if you already have the disease.