Hay fever is the common name for allergic rhinitis, which is an allergic reaction in the nose, throat and eyes.
Hay fever often occurs in spring and summer when it is caused by airborne pollens from trees, plants and grasses, which can cause a high pollen count.
Allergic rhinitis is usually caused by inhaling pollens present in the air during these times, when it is windy or during thunderstorms. Some people have symptoms all year round and constant symptoms can be caused by allergens like animal hair - cats, dogs, horses, moulds, house dust mites and cockroaches.
People who get allergic rhinitis often also suffer from other allergic conditions like asthma, eczema - an itchy skin rash - or hives - itchy, lumpy red skin. The symptoms of these conditions can appear worse or worsen when hay fever or sinus symptoms appear, particularly asthma. Doctors can arrange "allergy skin tests" to help find the cause of acute and chronic allergic rhinitis.
Signs and symptoms to look out for in hay fever or allergic rhinitis include:
- runny nose
- blocked nose or congestion
- itchy nose, mouth, ears or throat
- puffy, itchy, watery and red eyes
- post-nasal drip which is mucus from the nose and sinuses running down the back of the throat which can cause a cough
- reduced sense of smell and taste
- feeling tired and irritable
Hay fever or allergic rhinitis in the nose can lead to sinus problems, which can include pain and pressure around the cheeks, eyes and forehead, toothache, bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth, headaches and tiredness. Sinus problems occur when the lining of the sinus becomes inflamed and swollen or when normal mucus drainage from the sinus becomes blocked.
Swelling or inflammation of the sinus lining can be caused by:
- infection - viruses like the common cold or bacteria
- irritation - cigarette smoke, chlorine and other chemicals and some foods
- air pressure changes
- some medicines like long-term use of decongestant nasal sprays
- some medical conditions
"A variety of medicines and other treatments can help relieve and prevent symptoms of hay fever-allergic rhinitis and sinus problems and most are available from pharmacists without a prescription," pharmacist Mark Davis, from Terry White Chemmart Hamilton, said. "Some medicines for use in hay fever and sinus problems should not be used by children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or people with certain medical conditions, so always talk to your doctor or pharmacist for advice if not sure."
It is important to seek medical advice if these symptoms occur with your allergy or sinus problem:
- fever over 38.5C
- ear ache
- swollen glands in the neck or stiff neck
- yellow, green or creamy discharge from the eyes
- shortness of breath. wheezing or breathing problems
- constant cough
- eye sight changes
"Try to find and avoid the things that cause your allergy symptoms and don't just 'put up' with the symptoms," Mark said.
"Your pharmacist or local doctor can assist with with advice and great treatment options for self help and protection."
For more information give Terry White Chemmart Hamilton a call on 49611 269.