Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is a respiratory condition characterized by inflammation of mucous membranes of the nasal passageways. It is a very common respiratory condition, affecting ten percent of the American population.
Types: There are two types of hay fever—chronic and seasonal. Seasonal hay fever is the most prevalent type, and both forms present the same symptoms.
Symptoms of Hay Fever: The most common symptoms of hay fever are excessive mucus production and discharge in the nasals accompanied by nasal congestion, difficulty breathing through the nose, sneezing, and itching eyes, nose, and/or throat. In cases of chronic hay fever, eczema, chronic fatigue, headache, hives, and gastrointestinal disorders, such as constipation and gastritis, can also be present. Unlike colds, the nasal secretions produced by hay fever tend to be clear and without ache, pains and fever.
Hay fever is most commonly caused by allergies, especially to pollen. However, it can also be caused by allergic reactions to animal dander (especially from cats and dogs), automobile exhaust, cigarette smoke, dust, foods, environmental toxins and pollutants, and synthetic chemicals, including those found in perfume, cologne, and hairspray, as well as synthetic products found in clothes.
Preventing Seasonal Hay Fever
If you suffer from seasonal allergies due to pollen, you can often prevent hay fever symptoms simply by determining what time of year they occur. Once you are clear on the timing, you can then begin supplementing with pollen extracts two months prior to your personal hay fever season. Doing so helps to sensitize you to pollen, thus reducing, and often preventing, hay fever symptoms. For best results, work with a holistically oriented allergy specialist to help you accomplish this goal. In addition, avoid exposure to secondhand smoke and, if you smoke, seek help in order to quit. (For more information, see Addictions.)