If you sneeze a lot, if your nose is often runny or stuffy, or if your eyes, mouth or skin often feels itchy, you may have allergic rhinitis, a condition that affects 40 million to 60 million Americans.
Allergic rhinitis is commonly known as hay fever. But you don’t have to be exposed to hay to have symptoms. Allergic rhinitis is a group of symptoms affecting the nose. These symptoms occur when you breathe in something you are allergic to, such as dust, animal dander, or pollen. Symptoms can also occur when you eat a food that you are allergic to. An allergen is something that triggers an allergy. When a person with allergic rhinitis breathes in an allergen such as pollen, mold, animal dander, or dust, the body releases chemicals that cause allergy symptoms.
Hay Fever Symptoms
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes, mouth or skin
- Stuffy nose due to blockage or congestion
- Fatigue (often reported due to poor quality sleep as a result of nasal obstruction)
Hay Fever Triggers
- Outdoor allergens, such as pollens from grass, trees and weeds
- Indoor allergens, such as pet hair or dander, dust mites and mold
- Irritants, such as cigarette smoke, perfume and diesel exhaust
Hay Fever Management and Treatment
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.
- Nasal corticosteroid sprays are the most effective treatment for allergic rhinitis.
- Allergy shots (immunotherapy) are sometimes recommended if you cannot avoid the pollen and your symptoms are hard to control. This includes regular shots of the pollen you are allergic to. Each dose is slightly larger than the dose before it, until you reach the dose that helps control your symptoms. Allergy shots may help your body adjust to the pollen that is causing the reaction.
If you are suffering from allergic rhinitis, call our office so we can recommend the best treatment specific to your needs (616) 994-2770.