Hay Fever Symptoms and Allergic Rhinitis

November 12, 2012

Hay Fever Symptoms and Allergic Rhinitis

In the United States, hay fever or allergic rhinitis affects about one third of the population including children and adults. Medical costs run over a billion a year to treat this disorder and many individuals lose time at work and school. Studies tell us that the incidence of allergic rhinitis is rising in the U.S. as well as many other developed nations. Hay fever symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe.

First off, hay fever is an inappropriate term. Years ago when people were gather hay, it was notice that they often experienced nasal congestion and watery eyes and associated these symptoms with hay and decided to call these symptoms, hay fever. Well, it has nothing to do with the hay and there was no fever present. Medically speaking, a description of these symptoms is called allergic rhinitis. Rhino refers to nose and itis is a medical suffix for inflammation. Nevertheless, allergic rhinitis comes in two forms depending on when it occurs. If you have allergic responses at only certain times of the year that is called seasonal allergic rhinitis and if you have it year round then you are said to have perennial allergic rhinitis. If you happen to have sinus problems as well, then you are said to have rhinosinusitis. Hay fever symptoms or allergic rhinitis symptoms often involve nasal congestion, a clear runny nose (water liquid), sneezing with nose and eye itching. This is often accompanied with a postnasal drip that may cause of cough. These hay fever symptoms may also come with a loss of the sense of smell and taste. It isn’t unusual to experience nose bleeds, redness of the eye and excess tearing. These hay fever symptoms can certainly be annoying. Left unchecked may lead to long term sinus inflammation and possibly asthma.

How do hay fever symptoms come about? This is your immune system over reacting to something that should be relatively harmless to you. Once the body sees these essentially harmless materials, the immune system puts up defenses to remove them. Antibodies are produced to bind to these entities to mark them for destruction. These antibodies are known as IgEs. People who have allergies tend to have a lot of IgEs in their systems. This in turn attracts immune cells (mast cells) to destroy the marked invader. At this point, the mast cells release histamines which causes a local inflammation that allows for plasma from blood to flow into your tissues along with other white blood cells. All of this initiates the production of mucus and swollen tissues that makes it difficult to breath and your nose keeps running. This reaction continues until the allergen is removed from the environment. Quite often the immune system becomes sensitized to the antigen and each subsequent occurrence can get worse to the point you have difficulty in functioning. The immune system has run amok. Ideally, you need to get the immune system back to a normal state, unfortunately, that may be difficult or entirely impossible to achieve. Hay fever symptoms can absolutely make you miserable.

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