School is out and summertime is here. It is time to enjoy the great outdoors with family and friends. If you are an allergy sufferer, you may experience seasonal outdoor allergic rhinitis also known as hay fever. You may experience some or all the typical hay fever symptoms such as sneezing, itchy/watery eyes, stuffy nose, runny nose, post nasal drainage, clogged up ears, itchy ear canals, and/or itchy nose. Why me or why you?
Hay Fever is a result of the immune system identifying a harmless airborne particle like pollen as dangerous and the pollen is an allergen. The immune system reacts to the normally harmless allergen by releasing histamines and other substances into your bloodstream to attack the allergen as if it is dangerous. The histamines and substances in your bloodstream cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Different plants emit their pollens at different times of year. If you develop allergy symptoms at the same time each year, you may identify the likely culprits are the plants emitting pollen at that time of year. Approximately 8 percent of Americans get hay fever according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
The best treatment is avoidance of the allergen by staying indoors, keeping windows closed and using HEPA filters. It may not be possible to avoid your allergens. There are a wide variety of over the counter medications available to treat your allergy symptoms. The medications include antihistamines, decongestants, nasal steroids and combination medicine preparations. I also recommend using nasal saline rinses to moisturizer and clear congestion from your nasal passages. Nasal saline rinses and irrigation products are available over the counter in a variety of packaging.
If you believe you have seasonal allergy symptoms or hay fever, discuss your symptoms with your family physician. Your physician discuss recommendations for allergen avoidance to prevent allergy symptoms and medications for symptom management.