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Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever)

If you have allergic rhinitis, your immune system mistakenly identifies a typically harmless substance in your system as a threat. Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, is an allergic reaction that typically causes sneezing, congestion, an itchy nose, and a sore throat.

The condition is often triggered by dust mites, mold, pet dander, and pollen from trees and plants. Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is not contagious.

Causes of Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever)

Any substance that triggers an allergic reaction is called an allergen. Most allergens are harmless substances, such as dust mites or pollen. However, when inhaled by people who are allergic to them, these allergens can trigger a severe allergic reaction. 

In this case, the immune system thinks the allergen is a threat and tries to protect the body by releasing histamine into your bloodstream.

Unfortunately, in its effort to eject the allergen, histamine causes mucous membranes in the nose, eyes, and throat to become inflamed and itchy. This results in the familiar symptoms of hay fever.

Allergic rhinitis symptoms may also occur due to other irritants, such as smoke and strong odors. Some people may also experience an allergic reaction when there are changes in the temperature and humidity.

Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever)

You will likely experience one or more of the following symptoms immediately after being exposed to an allergen:

  • Sneezing
  • A runny nose
  • A stuffy nose
  • An itchy nose
  • Coughing
  • A sore or scratchy throat
  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Frequent headaches
  • Itchy skin that can blister and weep
  • Hives
  • Excessive fatigue

Allergic rhinitis can be troubling for people with asthma since it can worsen asthma symptoms. Talk to your doctor about managing your allergic reactions during spring and fall and keeping your asthma in check.

Types of Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever)

Allergic rhinitis may be seasonal or perennial (all year round). Seasonal allergies usually occur during the spring and fall seasons. During these times, the air is typically full of outdoor allergens such as tree pollen.

On the other hand, perennial allergies can occur year-round or at any time during the year. Year-round allergies are usually caused by allergens found indoors. This includes substances such as dust mites and pet dander.

Diagnosis for Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever)

To diagnose your allergic rhinitis, your doctor will examine you for other similar conditions, such as asthma or a cold. Your doctor may recommend taking a blood test to check your immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels. 

This test helps detect a variety of allergies. In some cases, the doctor may order a skin prick test to identify the allergens to which your body reacts.

Treatment for Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever)

Your doctor may recommend immunotherapy or allergy shots to treat your allergic rhinitis. This type of treatment encourages your body to learn to tolerate allergens. It’s usually advisable to use this treatment plan along with other medication to control your symptoms.

Other treatment options can include over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine medication or decongestants. Antihistamines can be taken as pills, syrups, eye drops, nasal sprays, and inhalers. 

Note that antihistamines can cause drowsiness, and taking them during your working day may be challenging to manage.

Hay Fever Treatment in Portland

Do you need help managing your allergic rhinitis or hay fever? Please call West Hills Allergy & Asthma Associates for a consultation with Dr. Rene Anderson-Cowell. You can call us at (503) 297-4779 or request an appointment online.

9701 SW Barnes Road
Suite 130
Portland, Oregon 97225


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