Allergic rhinitis, known as hay fever, is what we typically associate with seasonal allergies. While some do have seasonal allergic rhinitis, which means they have symptoms in the spring, summer or early fall, others have perennial allergic rhinitis and suffer from symptoms year-round. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is usually caused by an allergy to airborne mold spores or pollens from grass, trees or weeds. Perennial allergic rhinitis is caused by an allergy to dust mites, pet hair, cockroaches or mold.Those with hay fever typically have a runny nose, itchy eyes, stuffy nose, sneezing and a feeling of fatigue. Cigarette smoke, strong odors and cleaning solutions can make symptoms worse.
In order to diagnose hay fever, your doctor will review your medical history. They are specifically looking for a pattern of when you experience these symptoms. A skin test may be ordered to get a better idea of what you are allergic to. A skin test involves placing a small amount of what you may be allergic to (called an allergen extract) on or below the skin. After 15 minutes, any red or itchy bumps are measured to determine the severity of your allergy.
Once your doctor has determined what you are allergic to, they will work with you to figure out how to avoid your triggers. Keeping your windows closed during high pollen count days, using dust mite-proof covers for your bedding and washing your hands immediately after playing with a pet are all simple ways to prevent exposure to allergens. If your symptoms cannot be well controlled by simply avoiding what you are allergic to, medications such as intranasal corticosteroids and antihistamines may be used. Decongestants can be used for short-term relief. It is important to not use these for longer than recommended as they can actually make symptoms worse.
Those who do not find relief from medication may consider allergy shots or sublingual tablets. After an extended period of time, with the help of this treatment you should no longer experience any allergy symptoms.