Hay Fever – the Basics


We all remain afraid of getting sick and most of the time when we go to the doctor; we have a “fever”. However, unlike its name, “Hay Fever” is not caused by hay neither does it occur with typical symptom of fever i.e. increased body temperature. On the contrary, it is a form of allergy known as “Allergic Rhinitis”. It occurs when a person inhales pollen, dust or animal dander. Since it happens after inhalation, it results in allergic inflammation of nasal airways. Actually, grass and plants shed their pollens into the air which are inhaled by the people and they suffer from hay fever.

Hay fever is prevalent in Western countries. In Western countries, an estimated 10 – 25 % people suffer from hay fever annually. In America alone, 30 % Americans suffer from hay fever including 40 % of children. Both male and female genders are equally affected.


How do we classify Hay fever?

Hay Fever is classified into two main types:

  1. Seasonal Hay fever: It occurs particularly during pollen seasons, usually during spring and fall. Children below 6 years of age do not get affected by seasonal hay fever. Seasonal hay fever can be further classified as under:


  • Hay fever caused by Tree Pollen: It occurs during spring.
  • Hay fever caused by Weed Pollen: It occurs during fall.
  • Hay fever caused by Grass Pollen: It affects people at the end of the spring and during summer.
  • Hay fever caused by Fungi: It occurs in warmer seasons.


  1. Perennial Hay fever: Perennial Hay fever can occur throughout the year and younger children are more likely to get affected by it. It can last throughout the year depending on the presence of allergen itself.


  1. Local Allergic Rhinitis: It refers to the local allergic reaction in the nose to an allergen without systemic manifestations. When a person is tested for an allergy, results are negative but actually antibodies are produced in their nose and react with an allergen. Like general Hay fever, local Hay fever can also be classified into seasonal and perennial local allergic rhinitis. Symptoms are pretty much same as those of allergic rhinitis and they can vary from mild to moderate to severe.


How does Hay fever affect us?

People who suffer from hay fever are bothered by excessive nasal secretion along with nasal congestion and obstruction. Furthermore, sneezing, watery eyes, itchy nose and itchy throat are also common symptoms of hay fever. Symptoms of hay fever are dependent on the severity of allergy. For instance, in severe hay fever, findings indicate severe symptoms such as complete loss of smell and taste, blocked sinuses which result in facial pain and itchiness spreading to the ears and throat. Some people suffering from hay fever have also reported about experiencing insomnia and fatigue. Hay fever affects asthma patients so badly resulting in the increase of their breathlessness episodes. According to an estimate, every one in four people suffering from hay fever has asthma.


What are the risk factors?

Risk factors actually increase the person’s chances of getting affected with particular disease or condition. A person is likely to get affected with hay fever if he or she has following risk factors:

  • If parents or ancestors have had hay fever.
  • If he/she is younger.
  • If a child is regularly exposed to cigarette smoke.
  • If a child is born during high pollen season.
  • If a child is only child in his family, he is more vulnerable as compared to children with siblings.


What preventive measures should I take?

You can always cover your nose when you go outside. Moreover, keep your car windows closed and take all kinds of preventive measures you possibly could to avoid exposure to allergen.