Any harmless substance that causes an allergic reaction is known as an allergen. Some specific allergens induce allergic responses when they enter the body. For instance, certain specific allergens such as pollen grains, insects, molds, and pet dander can cause hay fever or allergic rhinitis.
Allergic rhinitis symptoms: This condition is associated with allergy symptoms that mostly occur with changes in seasons. The most common allergy symptoms include sneezing, sore throat, itchy nose, nasal congestion, and watery eyes.
Is there any specific time of the year that makes people prone to hay fever?
There is no specific time as Hay fever can occur any time of the year. However, seasonal allergies are common during early summer spring, and early fall when plants have higher pollen counts. Some allergens such as dust mites, cockroaches, and pet dander are present throughout the year and cause allergies.
Why do allergies get worse during winter?
People who are prone to allergies can suffer from frequent bouts of allergic rhinitis from indoor allergens such as molds, dust mites, pet dander. Their symptoms get worse as they tend to spend more time indoors during the winter season.
What is Hay fever or Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergens are tiny particles in the air. These particles enter your body through your mouth and nose when you breathe in air. Your body’s natural defense mechanism fights against these foreign particles by prompting an immune response or allergic reaction. In doing so, your body releases a chemical substance called histamine – which in association with other substances is responsible for the typical allergy symptoms. People who are susceptible to these allergens that are present both indoors and outdoors may get hay fever. The most common types of allergens that cause hay fever include pollen, pet dander, mold, and dust mites.
Symptoms of hay fever
Allergic rhinitis symptoms: Sneezing, sore throat, watery eyes, itchy nose, irritation of eyes, mouth, throat, and nose and nasal congestion, headaches, sinus pain, excess mucus in the throat and nose, fatigue and malaise, coughing, breathing trouble and wheezing are the typical symptoms of hay fever.
Remember – allergic rhinitis is not the same as infectious rhinitis (common cold). Allergic rhinitis or hay fever is not contagious.
Experts opine that approximately 10 to 30% of the population worldwide may have allergic rhinitis and, in India, up to 25 to 30% of people have this condition. Hay fever can make you feel awful, but you can find relief with lifestyle changes, allergy medications, and immunotherapy (allergy shots).
Read our next post to learn more about the diagnosis and treatment of Allergic Rhinitis.