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What Is the Difference Between Allergies and Hay Fever?

If your eyes start itching, your nose becomes congested, and you start sneezing and wheezing as soon as pollen season hits or when you’re indoors, chances are you have hay fever. The term ‘hay fever’ often causes confusion. Don’t let the name fool you. It doesn’t refer to a fever or a reaction to hay. That’s why health professionals prefer the term ‘allergic rhinitis.” Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, means you have an allergy to a substance in the air.

Allergic rhinitis is common

Up to 30% of American adults and as many as 40% of children suffer from allergic rhinitis. The term ‘hay fever’ is misnomer, meaning the name is incorrectly applied. Misnomers often arise because a name is given well before the true cause is identified. Because we’re now aware that what we know as hay fever is an allergy to something in the air, we prefer to call it allergic rhinitis. To avoid confusion, we will refer to hay fever as allergic rhinitis from here on out in this article.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with seasonal allergic rhinitis, it means you have an allergy. Your immune system reacts to a substance in the outdoor air. Pollen, a fine powdery substance comprised of pollen grains, is the most common outdoor air allergen. Because pollen is a harmless substance, most people do not react to it. As with any allergy, your immune system overreacts to pollen when it should normally ignore it.

If your symptoms start plaguing you in the spring, chances are you have seasonal allergic rhinitis. Pollen levels peak in the spring, bringing on symptoms like sneezing, wheezing, nasal congestion, and itchy eyes. Some people also experience hives.

Perennial allergic rhinitis

If you experience year-round symptoms, you’re likely allergic to an indoor allergen such as dust mites, pet dander or indoor mold. The symptoms are virtually the same, except people with seasonal allergic rhinitis experience symptoms during spring, summer and early fall, while people with perennial allergic rhinitis have symptoms regardless of the season.

The symptoms of allergic rhinitis are commonly confused with chronic sinusitis and the common cold. Because the symptoms overlap, most people are unable to distinguish the difference. That’s why it’s important to see a healthcare provider who specializes in diagnosing and treating allergies. Dr. Rafiquddin Rahimi routinely diagnoses and treats patients with allergic rhinitis and can develop an individualized treatment plan to bring you relief.

How is allergic rhinitis treated?

Getting relief from allergic rhinitis involves limiting your exposure to the allergen, as well as controlling your symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe antihistamines or corticosteroid nasal sprays. Treatment for allergic rhinitis is personalized to your unique situation.

What is immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is a treatment to gradually train your immune system to tolerate the allergen to which you’re reacting. It involves giving incremental doses of the allergen so that the immune system becomes less sensitive over time.

Before starting treatment, Dr. Rafiquddin will identify the allergen that is causing your symptoms. A skin test and sometimes blood tests are used to determine which allergen is responsible for your reactions. Some patients experience relief from symptoms during the build-up phase, which lasts three to six months. During this time, you will receive injections one to two times each week.

The maintenance phase begins once an effective dose is reached. The maintenance phase may continue for three to five years.

The symptoms of allergic rhinitis can make life miserable. Effective treatment is available to get your allergies under control. For more information on diagnosis and treatment of allergic rhinitis, visit Allergy Relief Clinics. Call our Richardson, Texas clinic to schedule a consultation with Dr. Rahimi, or use our convenient online form to book online.

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