Hay Fever: Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

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Also known as allergic rhinitis, hay fever is a condition that causes signs and symptoms similar to those of cold such as runny nose, nasal congestion, itchy or sore eyes, sinus pressure and sneezing.Hay Fever

However, hay fever, unlike cold, is not caused by a virus. Hay fever is simply an allergic response to allergens such as pollen, pet dander and dust mites.

Hay fever may interfere with your work performance or your studies, however, symptoms can be avoided by staying away from the triggers and allergens and finding suitable treatment to treat the problem.

Disclaimer: the material posted on this Blog on Hay fever and associated signs symptoms, causes and treatment is for learning and information purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage minor and major allergies sign up for St Mark James first aid courses here.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of hay fever often start right after your exposure to an allergen. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Watery or irritated eyes
  • Itchy nose or throat
  • Facial pain and sinus pressure
  • Decreased sense of taste and smell
  • Swollen skin under the eye – skin may be blue coloured

Symptoms of hay fever may worsen during a particular time of the year. It may be triggered by tree pollen, weeds or grasses which tend to bloom at certain times. Some people are sensitive to allergens indoor such as dust, bugs, cockroaches, mites, pet dander or molds and may experience year-round symptoms. Other people may have symptoms throughout the whole year, but they often worsen at certain times.

When to seek medical attention

See a health care provider if any of the following problems arise as a result of hay fever:

  • You suspect you may have hay fever
  • Symptoms remain persistent and troublesome
  • Allergic medications are ineffective in treating symptoms
  • Allergic medication may work but may cause side-effects as well
  • You are suffering from other conditions that may exacerbate symptoms of hay fever such as asthma, nasal polyps or recurrent sinus infections

Most people, especially children get used to symptoms of hay fever however, appropriate treatment is necessary in order to alleviate bothersome symptoms.


Complications that may arise due to hay fever include:

  • Reduced quality of life
  • Lack of sleep
  • Worsening asthma
  • Ear infection
  • Sinusitis

Home care treatment

Home care treatment is based on finding ways to avoid allergens.

For pollen or molds:

  • Keep your doors and windows shut during pollen season
  • Use air conditioning in your car and house
  • Avoid hanging clothes outside to dry as pollen may stick to them
  • Avoid leaving the house during dry and windy days
  • Consider using an allergy-grade filters in your ventilation system
  • Avoid outdoor activity when pollen counts are highest especially during early morning
  • Wear a dust mask while performing outdoor activities
  • Avoid moving raking leaves and mowing the lawn and this stirs up allergens
  • Use humidifiers
  • Use a HEPA filter in your room

Dust mites:

  • Use allergy-proof covers for mattresses and pillows
  • Wash your blankets, sheets and bed covers in hot water (at least 130 F or 54C)
  • Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to decrease indoor humidity
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with an HEPA filter to clean carpets on a weekly basis
  • If you are highly sensitive to dust mites, consider removing the carpets in your bedrooms

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