Hay fever


Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is a common allergic disorder caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust and animal dander. When inhaled, these allergens trigger an allergic reaction in the body and cause symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, and a runny nose. People with hay fever may also experience fatigue, headaches, and watery eyes. Treatment usually involves antihistamines and avoiding triggers, such as staying indoors during hay fever season.


The most common symptoms of hay fever are:

  1. Sneezing and nasal congestion
  2. Itchy, watery eyes
  3. Itchy nose, throat, and ears
  4. Coughing
  5. Runny nose
  6. Dark circles under the eyes
  7. Fatigue
  8. Facial pressure and pain


The common known cause of Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen and other airborne allergens, such as dust mites, molds, and pet dander. When these allergens come into contact with the nose, eyes, and throat of an allergic person, they can trigger allergic inflammation and an IgE-mediated hypersensitivity reaction. In addition, viral respiratory infections and smoking can also contribute to the development of hay fever.

Risk factors

Risk factors for hay fever include:

  • Having a family history of allergies
  • Living in an urban environment
  • Exposure to cigarette smoke and air pollution
  • Being male
  • Being between the ages of 5-30
  • Having underlying health issues, such as asthma or eczema
  • Exposure to certain pollens and molds
  • Eating processed foods and foods containing food additives
  • Being exposed to certain types of clothing or other materials that may contain allergens
  • Being exposed to airborne allergens
  • Being exposed to dust mites, pet dander and cockroaches


Hay fever is usually diagnosed based on a patient’s medical history, physical exam, and allergy testing. During the medical history, the patient will be asked about their symptoms, any family history of allergic reactions, and whether they have been exposed to any potential allergens. During the physical exam, a doctor will examine the patient’s eyes, nose, throat, and skin for signs of inflammation or other indicators of allergic reactions. Lastly, allergy testing may be done to identify specific triggers. Skin prick tests and blood tests can be used to detect specific immunoglobulin (IgE) antibodies that are associated with allergic reactions.


Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is a type of allergic reaction to allergens such as pollen, dust mites, or pet dander. It can be classified into two main subtypes: seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR) and perennial allergic rhinitis (PAR).

Seasonal allergic rhinitis occurs during specific times of the year due to contact with certain pollens. It is often associated with the blooming of plants, like grasses and trees, and typically appears when those plants are in season. Symptoms are generally worse during spring and summer.

Perennial allergic rhinitis occurs year-round and is associated with contact with allergens in the air, such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold. Symptoms occur throughout the year, regardless of the season.

Both types of hay fever can cause symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, and itching of the nose, throat, and eyes. Treatment typically involves avoiding the allergen and taking antihistamines or other medications.


The most common treatments for hay fever are antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroid nasal sprays, and immunotherapy. Antihistamines can reduce the effects of histamine and other allergy symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, and itching. Decongestants improve nasal congestion by shrinking swollen blood vessels. Corticosteroid nasal sprays reduce the inflammation that causes hay fever symptoms. Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, helps the body to gradually build up tolerance to specific allergens. These shots can help reduce the severity of hay fever symptoms. For individuals with severe symptoms, a combination of treatments may be necessary.


Some steps that can be taken to help reduce the risk of hay fever include:

  1. Avoid being outdoors in early morning and late evening when pollen counts are typically highest.
  2. Wear a pollen mask when outdoors.
  3. Keep windows closed at home and in the car when pollen counts are high.
  4. Shower and change clothes after outdoor activities.
  5. Use a saline nasal rinse to clear the nasal passages of pollen.
  6. Vacuum and dust regularly to reduce indoor allergens.
  7. Install high-efficiency air filters to improve air quality in the home.
  8. Take antihistamines or other allergy medications as prescribed by a doctor.
  9. Get an allergy test to determine which allergens are causing the problem.
  10. 0. Avoid certain foods which may aggravate symptoms.

Gender differences?

Yes, there are gender-specific differences in the presentation and management of hay fever. Women tend to report more severe symptoms than men, such as eye symptoms, which may be due to the fact that women have more sensitive immune systems. Women may also be more likely to seek help for their symptoms as they tend to be more aware of their health needs. In terms of management, women may require a more tailored approach, such as the use of topical medications that specifically target the symptoms. Women may also require more frequent visits to the doctor for diagnosis and more extensive advice on how to reduce exposure to any triggers that may be causing their symptoms to flare up.


Nutrition plays an important role in the management of hay fever. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, and healthy fats can help reduce inflammation, which is associated with hay fever flare-ups. Additionally, certain vitamins and minerals, such as omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, vitamin C, and quercetin, are known to help reduce symptoms of hay fever. Eating foods that are rich in these vitamins and minerals can help to lessen hay fever symptoms. Additionally, avoiding processed and refined foods may help to reduce inflammation, which can be a trigger for hay fever.

Physical Activity

Physical activity has been known to have an array of benefits, including the possible improvement of hay fever symptoms. Due to the increased circulation and oxygenation of the blood, physical activity may help to reduce inflammation and the production of histamines, which are the primary cause of hay fever symptoms. In addition, physical activity can reduce stress, which can also worsen hay fever symptoms. However, many people report experiencing increased hay fever symptoms due to the increased exposure to allergy triggers when exercising outdoors. Therefore, it is important to stay indoors in a temperature-controlled environment and remain properly hydrated to ensure that physical activity does not worsen hay fever symptoms.

Further Reading

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hay-fever/symptoms-causes/syc-20373039
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279488/
  3. https://medlineplus.gov/hayfever.html
  4. https://raisingchildren.net.au/guides/a-z-health-reference/hay-fever
  5. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8622-allergic-rhinitis-hay-fever
  6. https://acaai.org/allergies/allergic-conditions/hay-fever/
  7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/160665

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