Hay Fever: Symptoms and Causes
Hay Fever — General Information
Disclaimer: Not medical or professional advice. Always seek the advice of your physician.
Hay fever is an allergic condition of the human body to plant pollen. Often, people are faced with hay fever in late winter, spring, and summer, when the herbs and trees are blooming.
The incidence of hay fever around the world doubles every 10 years. People in the age range between10 and 40 years old get sick are more likely to get sick with hay fever. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is very common during adolescence. According to international studies, it affects 40% of young people in the United States. Children often feel the first symptoms of hay fever by the age of 8-11. Boys are more likely to get sick in childhood than girls, but by the age of majority, the data on the incidence level out between the sexes.
The main cause of hay fever is pollen from wind-pollinated plants. There are such plants all over the world and are well known to everyone: birch, maple, alder, hazel, sequoia, cereals, wormwood, etc. When plants start to bloom, their pollen spreads everywhere. When breathing, it easily gets on the mucous membrane of the eyes and nose and triggers allergy symptoms such as runny nose, lacrimation, and headache.
What Causes Hay Fever?
You may develop an increased sensitivity to pollen if.
- You have a hereditary predisposition — if both parents suffer from hay fever, then a child is 50% more likely to develop it. In this case, heredity is most often manifested in the mother's line.
- You live in a metropolis; environmental pollution reduces immunity and provokes a tendency to allergies.
- You follow monotonous eating habits without including enough vegetables and protein in the diet.
How to Understand That You Have Hay Fever?
- From the beginning of spring until the end of flowering, you notice in yourself.
- Nasal congestion, profuse mucous discharge.
- Severe itching in the nose.
- Attacks of sneezing, coughing.
- Itching, burning in the eyes, lacrimation, swelling of the eyelids, feeling of sand in eyes.
- Chapped lips due to constant mouth breathing.
- Increased fatigue.
- Drowsiness or insomnia.
- Constant feeling of tiredness.
- Headache that can get worse from bright sunlight.
- Ear pain.
- Hoarse voice.
- Hypersensitivity to cold, strong odors, road, and house dust.
- Wheezing in the chest.
- Attacks of suffocation (one of the most severe manifestations of hay fever is bronchial asthma).
Rare Symptoms of Hay Fever
- skin rash, itching
- sore throat
- abdominal pain, heartburn
- heart pain
Patients note exacerbations of hay fever more often in dry, windy weather - during periods of maximum pollen concentration in the air. Relief is brought by rains and high humidity — pollen is nailed to the ground, so it is more difficult for it to get into the respiratory tract of an allergic person.
Complications of Hay Fever
Often people are in no rush to visit a doctor with pollen allergy symptoms, but this is wrong. Complications of hay fever can develop at any time. Doctors have noticed that without treatment, pollen allergy symptoms become more severe each subsequent season.
Anaphylactic Shock as a Complication of Hay Fever
The most serious complication of hay fever is anaphylactic shock. It develops instantly, immediately after contact with a strong allergen. Due to swelling of the larynx, as well as spasm of the bronchi, there are signs of suffocation: the breathing of an allergic person resembles "asthmatic", wheezing, whistling appears, and loss of consciousness may develop. If there is no medical care nearby, then the patient can die of suffocation.
Anaphylactic shock, as a complication of hay fever, is extremely rare. But research has shown that people who are allergic to pollen can often develop anaphylactic shock to other allergens. Most often, this complication occurs in response to medication or certain foods. Therefore, before prescribing medicine or carrying out medical procedures, the doctor always asks you about the presence of an allergy.
Bacterial Complications of Hay Fever
Bacterial complications of hay fever occur when harmful bacteria enter the mucous membranes inflamed from allergies. Then a purulent infection joins a runny nose or lacrimation such as conjunctivitis, sinusitis. From the accumulation of infection, the human condition worsens. In addition to anti-allergy medications, the individual has to receive antibiotic therapy.
With prolonged inflammation in the nose, polyps, outgrowths of the mucous membrane that make breathing difficult, can form.
Hay Fever and Bronchial Asthma
After several years of pollen allergy, bronchial asthma often develops. Bronchial asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that disrupts breathing permanently. Asthma attacks are frequent, especially if the patient does not follow the doctor's treatment plan.
Patients with hay fever begin to notice that their allergies began to manifest themselves not only to pollen but also to completely different things. Since pollen has related cells with leaves, stems, and fruits of different plants and trees. Therefore, a person with hay fever may experience allergy symptoms when eating nuts, apples, kiwi, celery, meat. In case of allergy to cereal pollen, a cross-reaction occurs to bread, flour, sausage, and cocoa. Weed pollen allergies can respond to sunflower seeds, vegetable oil, melons, watermelons, or eggplants.
When do People Get Hay Fever?
We have already determined earlier that hay fever is most pronounced from the end of winter, in spring and summer (the beginning of the season depends on the region). A runny nose can accompany you for several months, while the plant blooms, which your body accepts as an enemy, for six months (if you are allergic to the pollen of several plants).
There are three groups of plants that cause hay fever.
- Ttrees (alder, hazel, oak, birch, ash, pine, willow) — dusting from January to May-June.
- Herbs - flowering from April-May to September.
- Weeds — flowering from May to September.
If you have seasonal allergies, this does not mean that you are completely free from hay fever in winter. When visiting a greenhouse or buying flowers, a reaction to pollen is possible at any time of the year.
Prevention of Hay Fever
It is worth thinking about the primary measures for prevention of hay fever for people who have relatives of allergy sufferers or are often sick.
- It would help if you had regular check-ups with your doctor.
- Try to adjust your diet so that it contains a lot of vegetables, protein, and complex carbohydrates.
- Control your stress level.
- Go to bed on time and get enough sleep.
And the secondary measures for the prevention of hay fever should be paid attention to those who already suffer from allergies.
- Try to dust off horizontal surfaces every day during flowering periods.
- Choose hypoallergenic household chemicals.
- Before taking a pet into the house, be sure to consult your doctor. This step may make your periods of seasonal allergies even more difficult for you;
- Follow the diet prescribed by your doctor.
- Install HEPA filters in the supply ventilation as it can remove pollen particles from the air.
- Take dietary supplements approved by your doctor.
- Use pollen monitoring if you decide to go on a trip. It will help you track the period and flowering of plants whose pollen is causing allergies in a specific region. Also, you will find out the level of comfort of the environment and, if necessary, start drug therapy in advance.