Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is a collection of symptoms occurring mostly in the nose and eyes. It is inflammation of the nasal airways due to an allergic reaction to tree, grass or weed pollens. Hay fever is seasonal. It occurs at the same time each year. Allergy to tree pollens is common in winter and spring and that of grass and weed pollens in summer.
When exposed to pollen for the first time, the body’s immune system recognizes it as a foreign substance and makes antibodies against it. Subsequent exposure to it initiates release of chemicals by the antibodies which cause the allergy symptoms such as itchy nose, mouth, eyes, throat, skin, etc., sneezing, watery eyes and a runny nose. Family history of allergies, eczema, asthma, etc. increases the risk of developing hay fever.
History of symptoms can help diagnose the condition. Skin tests and blood tests help in detecting the allergen. Avoiding exposure to pollens can help control allergy symptoms. Decongestants, antihistamines, nasal corticosteroid sprays, leukotriene modifiers, mast cell stabilizers, allergy shots and immune-based therapies are some of the treatment options. There are alternative treatments and home remedies too.