Hay Fever Overview
Most likely you or someone you know has allergies. The telltale itchy,
puffy, watery eyes and red, stuffy nose signal changes in the seasons in
homes and workplaces across the country. What these people suffer from
is allergic rhinitis, or hay fever. The medical name for this condition
refers to stuffy and itchy nose ("rhin-"), the most common symptom.
Hay fever is an allergic reaction. It is your immune system's response
to foreign material in the air you breathe. Hay fever usually refers to
allergies to outdoor, airborne materials such as pollens and molds.
About 15-20% of the population of the United States has some degree of
hay fever. It is found equally in both men and women. Usually hay fever
is seasonal, but it can last all year long if the allergen stays
throughout the year. Spring and fall are the main hay fever seasons.
Hay Fever Symptoms
The usual symptoms of hay fever include the following:
* Runny nose (clear, thin discharge)
* Congested ("stuffy") nose
* Postnasal drip
* Sensation of plugged ear(s)
* Watery, bloodshot eyes
* Itching of nose, soft palate, ear canal, eyes, and/or skin
* Trouble sleeping