ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Hay Fever Causes and Treatment

Updated on December 3, 2009

The symptoms of hay fever are well known to the 10% of the population who suffer from this annoying and distressing condition. It starts with a sneeze, followed by another sneeze, then another, and dozens, scores or hundreds more. The nose drips constantly but remains so clogged you cannot breathe, you have bad breath, a constant drip of phlegm in your throat, red eyes, and a feeling that you just can't take any more of this devious torment. Most victims have the condition for only a few weeks or months of the year, when the pollens or dusts to which they react are present in the atmosphere. Although called hay fever, allergic rhinitis (to give it its technical tag) can be due to any one or more of several hundred different minute particles floating in the air. These can be the pollen which many plants release to fertilize others of their species, or they may be microscopic animals such as the house dust mite, or skin, scale or hair particles from animals.

Whatever the cause, the response is the same. When the sensitive, moist membranes that lines your nose and sinuses first comes into contact with the sensitizing particle (called an allergen), there is no reaction, but the body's immune system is primed to react to the next invasion by these allergens. On the second exposure, the large immunoglobulin proteins that act to defend the body against invasion by any foreign matter react violently. They cluster around special cells (called mast cells) that rupture and release a substance called histamine into the nasal tissues. Histamine causes the tissue to become inflamed. The lining of the nose swells, blocking the airway, and it secretes large amounts of clear mucus in an attempt to wash away the offending particles of pollen or dust. After a few hours or days, the body destroys the histamine released, and the tissues return to normal, until a further inhalation of allergens triggers the reaction again.

The diagnosis of hay fever is relatively obvious, but not all people with runny noses are its victims. Changes in temperature and position, emotional upsets, hormonal changes (some women find their runny noses to be worse at certain times of the month), and virus infections can all cause blocked and runny noses, and the treatment for these conditions can be quite different. Blood tests may show an increase in certain types of blood cells and other chemicals in patients with hay fever, but other diseases may produce similar changes.

Hay fever can be treated by using antihistamines to counteract the histamine released into the tissue. These are effective, but many of them cause drowsiness in patients. Some recently released and more expensive anti-histamines overcome this problem. Anti-histamine nasal sprays are also available. Another method of relief is to use pseudo ephedrine nasal sprays and tablets. A doctor may also prescribe special steroid sprays  and/or anti-allergy sprays in chronic cases. These are designed to be used regularly to prevent the nose from reacting to the allergens in the air.

Maintaining an allergy-free environment around the victim can often be beneficial. Covering mattresses and pillows with plastic, removing carpets and curtains from bedrooms, using synthetic stuffing and materials in pillows and furniture rather than animal hair, feathers or wool, and avoiding dust-collecting wickerwork and similar furniture are some of the steps that can be taken.

Victims who suffer regularly can have blood or skin tests performed to determine exactly which dusts and pollens cause the hay fever. Once this is known, a course of ten or more weekly injections may be used to desensitize the patient. An allergy specialist or general practitioner may give them, and they are effective in permanently preventing hay fever in some cases.

The last resort is surgery. In this, part of the lining of the nasal cavity may be removed by burning (diathermy), and some of the curly bones within the nose (called turbinates) may be cut out so that there is less area of membrane to secrete the excessive amounts of watery phlegm.

The exact form of treatment will depend on the severity of the disease and can only be reasonably determined after consultation with your general practitioner.

Please Note:


  • The information provided on this page is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a registered physician or other healthcare professional.

  • The content of this page is intended only to provide a summary and general overview. Do not use this information to disregard medical advice, nor to delay seeking medical advice.

  • Be sure to consult with your doctor for a professional diagnosis and appropriate medical treatment.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)