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Hay Fever

Seasonal allergy, commonly called hay fever, occurs when microscopic spores and pollen land on the tissues lining the nose and sinuses. The immune systems of persons allergic to these particles responds to them as if they were bacteria and releases a substance known as histamine.

The release of histamine then causes the unpleasant symptoms: stuffy, runny nose; postnasal drip; itchy throat; watery eyes. Violent sneezing attacks are also quite common, often with 10 or 20 sneezes in a row. Severe cases can lead to headaches and earaches, soreness in the eyes, and even hives.

Asthmatics and other people with breathing problems may suffer from shortness of breath. Although they are rare, serious complications from seasonal allergies can occur and may include chronic loss of the sense of taste and smell, chronic ear infections which can lead to hearing loss, distortion of the bones in the face and mouth from nasal pressure, and the inability to breath through the nose, which can lead to dental problems in children.

Several treatments are available which can reduce the severity of hay fever reactions. Antihistamines are very effective at blocking the allergic reactions, but most tend to cause drowsiness. Decongestants help clear clogged nasal and sinus passages. Steroids can be used to control itching and inflammation. In some cases, a program of injections may decrease sensitivity to a particular substance.

It is important to consult your physician or pharmacist before using any over-the-counter drugs or treatments. They will be able to advise you on proper usage and can warn you of possible side effects and contraindications.


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