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What Is Hay Fever Season & Understanding Treatment Options

Oh, August! The month of peaches and tomatoes, back-to-school jitters, and – of course – hay fever, which tends to be especially prevalent during this month and into the fall season. Hay fever is one of the most common chronic conditions, affecting millions of people every year. Read on to find out about what it is, what it’s not, and how to manage it.

What Is Hay Fever?

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is an allergic reaction to airborne substances, like pollen from grasses, trees, and weeds. It typically occurs when these plants release pollen into the air, and the immune system of sensitive individuals reacts to it.

The timing of symptoms can vary depending on the type of pollen someone is allergic to and their geographic location. Generally, there are three main types of pollen and associated hay fever seasons:

Hay fever can be worse in August due to high pollen counts from plants like ragweed, longer exposure to allergens, hot and dry weather, air pollution, cross-reactivity with certain foods, and late-blooming plants.

Is It a Cold, or Is That Hay I Smell?

“Hay fever” is a misleading term that has nothing to do with hay or fever. It got its name in the 19th century due to the mistaken association between its symptoms with the haying season. It is often mistaken for the common cold because the symptoms are similar. In reality, it is an allergic reaction, causing sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy eyes. Here are some key differences between hay fever and a cold:

Understanding the differences can help you manage your symptoms appropriately and seek the right treatment for either condition.

Hay Fever Treatment

If you or a family member is affected, there are many things you can do to alleviate symptoms and feel better:

If symptoms are especially bothersome, consult a medical professional. Ask your doctor about stronger prescription medication or immunotherapy – severe cases may benefit from allergy shots. You can also reach out to an allergist for personalized treatment.

Want to learn more about allergies and allergy relief? Check out this blog from Dr. Christina about seasonal allergies in kids.