Experiencing hay fever
Concerning Your Health
By Dr. Terry Wolf
What is hay fever?
Hay fever is an allergic disorder that results when your immune system overreacts by attacking pollen or other harmless substances you inhale. Congestion builds in the veins lining the sinuses. The person suffering with hay fever has symptoms that include a stuffy, runny nose, head and nose congestion, pressure or fullness in the ears, postnasal drip, dark circles under the eyes, itchy eyes, nose and throat and fatigue. Also termed Allergic Rhinitis, hay fever can lead to nasal polyps and severe nose bleeds.
Is hay fever seasonal?
For some people, it is seasonal. But for others, it can be a year-round aggravation. Spring sufferers often react to tree pollens. Summer sufferers generally are reacting to grass and weed pollen. Fall hay fever is usually caused by weeds and fungal spores, which can be in the environment year-round. People with year-round hay fever are usually reacting to indoor allergens such as animal dander, mold, dust mites and feathers.
How do I know if my symptoms are indicative of hay fever?
Make an appointment with your primary care doctor or an allergy specialist. Your doctor may be able to confirm a diagnosis based on medical history and a physical examination. If not, painless skin tests (which do not require blood to be drawn) can be done to determine the substances that are triggering your allergic responses.
Is hay fever treatable?
Avoiding allergens that cause symptoms is the most effective treatment. However, there are also several over-the-counter, non-drowsy medications that help control symptoms. It’s important to use them daily during your allergy season, not only when you have symptoms. A pharmacist at your local drug store can advise you on what to choose for symptom relief.
What if I don’t find relief with these medications?
Make an appointment with your primary care doctor. Your doctor can prescribe more powerful medications specific to your needs.
Terry Wolf, DO, is a family medicine physician at Sanford East Mandan Clinic. Dr. Wolf completed a medical degree at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine and a residency and internship at Sparrow Hospital Family Practice, all in Lansing, Mich.