Allergy and hay fever

WHAT IS ALLERGY?

Allergies is an overreaction of the immune system to a particular substance, known as an allergen. The most common allergens are pollen, mold, dust mites, animal dander, latex, and insect venom (as bees).

WHAT IS ALLERGIC RHINITIS?

Allergic rhinitis is a condition in which allergies results in inflammation of the lining of the nose. The symptoms may resemble those of the common cold, but they are not caused by viral infection (as the common cold is). Allergic rhinitis may be during certain season (seasonal) or all year-round (perennial).  The severity of allergic rhinitis may be mild or moderate/severe.

WHAT IS SEASONAL ALLERGIC RHINITIS?

Seasonal allergic rhinitis (INTERMITTENT), or hay fever, is caused by allergy to pollen from flowers, grass, weeds, or trees. It may cause sudden and frequent attacks of sneezing with nasal discharge, and congestion. These symptoms may be accompanied with eye symptoms, as stinging, watering, itchy eyes, and conjunctivitis.

Seasonal allergy typically develops in childhood, it is not unusual to develop it as an adult. In fact, the average age to develop this seasonal allergic rhinitis is about 15 years.

WHAT IS PERENNIAL or (PERSISTENT) ALLERGIC RHINITIS?

Perennial or persistent allergic rhinitis is a hypersensitivity reaction to allergens like dust mites, animal dander or fungal spores.

SYMPTOMS OF AN ALLERGY

  1. Cold-like symptoms

Sneezing and a runny nose may be the first sign of both a common cold and an allergy attack. But unlike the common cold and influenza, the allergies are not caused by a viral infection. Common cold symptoms may vary as it may last for a few days up to two weeks according to severity of infection. If symptoms persist for longer time, they may be because of an allergy or you may need to ask your doctor for advice.

Allergies and common cold can be distinguished from other serious viral infections, like influenza, by lack of high fever, severe fatigue and colored mucous, cold or flu.

  1. Timing and recurrence of Irritation

To determine the cause, The timing of symptoms may help. Allergy, unlike viral infection cause persistent symptoms that recur in certain conditions. like hay fever which happens frequently in spring due to the increase of pollen count in air.

THE SYMPTOMS OF HAYFEVER

Hay fever appears mostly due to airborne pollens and allergens that make their way into your respiratory system, nasal passage or eyes and triggers immune response that led to inflammation of the area causing hay fever symptoms.

Several symptoms may indicate that you are suffering from hay fever allergy. They include:

  1. Frequent sneezing, nasal congestion, or runny nose.
  2. Red, itchy or watery eyes
  3. Itchy throat
  4. Irritated skin
  5. Rash and localized swellings which is known as hives

WHAT IS POLLEN (allergen)?

Pollen is a very fine powder produced by different types of plants, used to fertilize other plants from the same species. Flowering plants produce small amounts of pollen which are distributed by birds, flies, or bees from one plant to another. Other plants rely on the wind to disperse their pollen grains. These kinds of plants can cause pollen allergies (which is known as Hay fever or Allergic Rhinitis) in people.

HOW CAN A POLLEN ALLERGY BE DIAGNOSED?

Your doctor will ask about your medical history, physical examination and review your symptoms in order to diagnose your condition. Also, there are skin allergy tests done to diagnose which allergen is responsible for your symptoms.

HOW TO MANAGE SPRING POLLEN ALLERGIES?

  • Check forecast before going outside, to know if pollen count is high or not.
  • Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses.
  • If you have plants, avoid the kinds that are pollinated by wind and use types that are pollinated by birds like the flowering plants.
  • Splash your eyes with cold water several times a day to flush out any pollen.
  • Apply Vaseline smear or something similar into your nose to protect them from irritation due to contact with pollen.
  • Keep your windows closed at home and in the car and depend on air conditioning.
  • Take an antihistamine allergy medication such as Levohistam® to control allergic symptoms as: sneezing, itchy eyes and other frustrating symptoms of hay fever.

HOW to TREAT HAYFEVER

Levohistam® is a 3rd generation non-drowsy antihistamine that reduce the symptoms of hay fever allergies. For persistent or severe hay fever, you may need a nasal steroid spray, in addition to an antihistamine treatment, your doctor or the pharmacist can help you with this.

If your symptoms are not being relieved by your current treatment, talk to your doctor or pharmacist for other options that may better suit your needs.

HOW to TREAT HAYFEVER WHEN PREGNANT?

Always ask your doctor for advice if you are pregnant to describe what is best for you and suits your circumstances.

IS LIFESTYLE AFFECTING ALLERGIES?

Certain lifestyles including diet, physical activities, stress, quality of sleep can affect your allergy, its incidence and severity. Avoiding allergy triggers is very important in managing symptoms.

REFERENCES

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare