Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What are the symptoms of Hay Fever?"
What does hay fever look like? I always just thought I had seasonal colds, but a coworker just suggested that I might actually have a serious allergy problem. How can you tell the difference, and how should I go about treating this ? whatever it is?
It is true that the symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection (cold) and hay fever frequently overlap. There are some distinguishing features that may help you tell the difference, but sometimes it can be hard. Your primary care physician will likely be able to determine which of the two your are suffering from at a given time by taking a more detailed history and physical exam. Allergic rhinitis (AKA Hay fever) is a reactive inflammation of the upper airway passages in response to being exposed to an allergen such as pollen or dust. It is caused by immune cell release of histamine and other factors that cause the nasal passages to swell, the nose to run, and itch. Your physician will notice very pale swollen turbinates on examination of your nares. You should notice that these symptoms come and go after exposure to certain plants or places. Allergic rhinitis typically responds well to oral antihistamines such as Loratidine (Claritin). In contrast, an upper respiratory tract infection generally makes you feel more run down, you may run a small fever, and symptoms last for a few days, and subsides. There is less nasal itching. The symptoms do not respond to antihistamines. Distinguishing these 2 causes of your symptoms is important because the causes and subsequent treatments are different.
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