Hay fever, another word for allergic rhinitis or allergies, is the bane of millions of Americans nationwide. In fact, allergies are the sixth leading chronic illness in the U.S. Thankfully, however, there are many ways to stave off the worst of hay fever symptoms.
No one should suffer needlessly from hay fever—here’s how to stop that dreaded hay fever and nip your symptoms in the bud!
What is Hay Fever?
Before you learn how to stop Hay Fever, you have to know what it is. Hay fever is just another word for allergic rhinitis, or allergies. It can be caused by any number of different allergens, but the most common allergens are grasses, trees, and weeds, pet dander, cockroaches, and mold spores. Contrary to popular belief, hay fever is not only a spring condition.
In fact, hay fever can be both seasonal and perennial (year-round). Common hay fever symptoms include itchy, watery or red eyes, itchy or sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, chest tightness, dark circles under the eyes, and fatigue.
How to Stop Hay Fever
Unfortunately, there is no “cure” for hay fever. That said, hay fever is an extraordinarily common condition, and easily treatable. There are many treatment options for those suffering from hay fever. There are many very effective over the counter medications, including nasal decongestants, corticosteroid nasal sprays and drops, and antihistamines.
Prescription medication can also be extremely effective—talk to your doctor about what options are best for you. Another option to consider for more lasting relief is immunotherapy, or allergy shots. Allergy shots, which are administered over a period of several months, can drastically reduce allergy symptoms, and even almost eliminate them entirely.
Hay Fever Prevention Tips
While hay fever is not entirely avoidable, prevention goes along way. Avoiding allergens and other hay fever triggers as much as possible will help lessen the frequency and intensity of hay fever symptoms.
Here are some general tips:
-Keep windows closed. During allergy seasons, keep the windows in your home and car closed, as open windows let in allergens. Use air conditioning instead.
-Wear sunglasses. Not only will you protect your eyes and the delicate skin around your eyes, but you’ll prevent allergens from slipping into your eyes and causing itchiness, redness, and irritation.
-Clean your home. Make sure that you regularly clean your home to remove dust and clear away allergens. Wear a mask or other mouth cover while doing any household activities involving dust, use a HEPA filter for your vacuum, and invest in a dehumidifier in your home to control mold.
-Avoid going out during high pollen times. If you are allergic to tree, grass, or weed pollen, especially of the seasonal variety, try to monitor the times you leave your house or exercise outdoors. Avoid times where pollen counts are highest.
-Wash hands frequently. Wash your hands frequently, especially after petting an animal or touching a dusty object. Avoid touching your hands to your face, where allergens on your fingers can get into your nose, mouth, and eyes.
When Should I See a Doctor?
Many people get so used to the symptoms of hay fever year after year that they do not seek out treatment for it, or do not seek out treatment until symptoms become severe. The rule of thumb here is better safe than sorry. If you suspect you may have hay fever but aren’t sure, it is well worth a visit to a doctor or, preferably, a licensed allergist. An allergist will be able to administer an allergy spot test, which will help determine what you are allergic to.
Otherwise, you should visit your doctor if your allergy medication isn’t providing relief, if its causing side effects, or if you have another condition such as asthma that can worsen hay fever symptoms.