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Hay Fever

Allergic rhinitis – commonly known as hay fever – is a group of symptoms affecting the nose. But don’t be misled by the name – you do not have to be exposed to hay to have symptoms! Allergic rhinitis develops when the body’s immune system recognizes and overreacts to something in the environment that typically causes no problems in most people. When a sensitive person inhales an allergen, the body’s immune system may react with the following symptoms (listed in order of frequency):

  • Stuffy nose due to blockage or congestion
  • Runny nose or postnasal drainage
  • Itching, usually in the nose, mouth, eyes, or throat
  • Red and watery eyes
  • Puffy, swollen eyelids
  • Sneezing
  • Cough

Symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis can occur in spring, summer, and early fall. In the spring, the most common triggers are tree and grass pollen. In the fall, a common allergen is ragweed or other weed pollens or outdoor mold.

People with perennial allergic rhinitis experience symptoms year-round. It is generally caused by dust mites, pet hair or dander, cockroaches, or mold. Underlying or hidden food allergies rarely cause perennial nasal symptoms.

Some people may experience both types of rhinitis, with perennial symptoms getting worse during specific pollen seasons. There are also nonallergic causes for rhinitis including irritants such as cigarette or other smoke, perfumes, cleaning products and other strong odors.

  • Avoid triggers by making changes to your home and to your behavior.
  • Keep windows closed during high pollen periods, use air conditioning in your home and car.
  • Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to keep pollen out of your eyes.
  • Use “mite-proof” bedding covers to limit exposure to dust mites and a dehumidifier to control mold. (If you smell mildew, you likely have mold).
  • Wash your hands after petting any animal, and have a nonallergic person help with pet grooming, preferably in a well-ventilated area or outside.

Occasional allergies aren’t just something you have to live with. Consulting one of our allergy specialists is the most effective way to diagnose and treat allergic rhinitis symptoms and help you find relief.