Hay fever is the common name for allergic rhinitis, a disorder that can occur seasonally or year-round. It causes cold-like symptoms such as runny nose or congestion, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes and sinus pressure. Some patients experience allergic shiners – bluish skin under the eyes. Hay fever can affect smell and taste, disrupt sleep and lead to fatigue. It may even trigger attacks in asthma sufferers.
Seasonal hay fever is usually the result of pollen from trees, grasses or weeds; these typically cause symptoms in the spring or fall. Perennial (year-round) hay fever may be caused by dust mites, animal dander, mold and other environmental irritants. People with a family history of hay fever, asthma or other allergies have an increased risk of developing hay fever, as do smokers and those exposed to secondhand smoke. There is even evidence that suggests those born during pollen season are more likely to suffer from hay fever.
Allergy tests can help diagnose hay fever. Treatment can take the form of either medications (antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays and eye drops) or immunotherapy. Willamette ENT offers both sublingual and subcutaneous immunotherapy.