What is Hay Fever?
More appropriately called seasonal allergic rhinitis or seasonal allergies, hay fever is an allergic response within the body to allergens (allergy-inducing proteins) that are airborne during particular seasons such as spring and fall. Examples of these airborne allergens are pollen, dust, mold spores, pests and animal dander.
Hay fever occurs when pollen from trees, grasses and weeds is inhaled through the nose and/or mouth, become trapped in the mucus membranes of the nasal passage and respiratory tract and cause an allergic reaction. Symptoms of this allergic reaction include runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, congestion, postnasal drip, wheezing and coughing.
People are born with allergies and about one-quarter of those with allergies also have asthma. Also, of those who suffer from hay fever, ragweed is the most common allergen (75 percent), followed by grasses (50 percent), then trees (10 percent). Mold spores, animal dander and pests such as mites can also trigger hay fever, but it is not as common. Food allergies rarely cause hay fever, but if a particular food causes a mild case of hives or any mild stomach irritation, it may help to discontinue eating that food.