Hay fever

Other names: Allergic rhinitis, Seasonal allergy


Hay fever, also called allergic Rhinitis, causes cold-like signs and symptoms, such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing and sinus pressure. But unlike a cold, Hay fever isn't caused by a virus. Hay fever is caused by an allergic response to outdoor or indoor allergens, such as pollen, dust mites or pet dander.


Hay fever signs and symptoms usually start immediately after you're exposed to a specific allergy-causing substance (allergen) and can include:

Time of year can be a factor

Your Hay fever symptoms may start or worsen at a particular time of year, triggered by tree pollen, grasses or weeds. If you're sensitive to indoor allergens, such as dust mites, cockroaches, mold or pet dander, you may have year-round symptoms.


During sensitization, your immune system mistakenly identifies harmless substances as harmful. When you come in contact with these substances again, your immune system releases chemicals like histamine causing Hay fever symptoms.


Factors increasing the risk of Hay fever include having other allergies or asthma and a family history of allergies or asthma.


Complications associated with Hay fever include reduced quality of life, poor sleep, worsening asthma, sinusitis, and ear infections.


Prepare for your doctor's appointment by noting down symptoms, personal information, medications taken, questions for the doctor. Be ready to answer questions about symptom onset and severity.


  1. What are the common symptoms of Hay fever?

Runny nose, watery/itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, sinus pressure.

  1. What distinguishes Hay fever from a cold?

Cold has thick yellow discharge and body aches with low-grade fever.

  1. When should you see a doctor for Hay fever?

If symptoms are ongoing or bothersome despite medication.

  1. What are some seasonal triggers for Hay fever?

Tree pollen in spring; grass pollen in late spring/summer; ragweed pollen in fall.

  1. How does sensitization lead to Hay fever symptoms?

Immune system produces antibodies against harmless substances leading to allergic reactions.

  1. What are some complications associated with Hay fever?

Poor sleep quality, worsened asthma symptoms, sinusitis.

  1. What lifestyle changes can help manage Hay fever?

Reduce exposure to allergens; take medications before exposure.

  1. What tests are commonly used to diagnose Hay fever?

Skin prick test and allergy blood test.

  1. What are some common medications for treating Hay fever?

Nasal corticosteroids, antihistamines, decongestants.

  1. What alternative treatments are available for Hay fever?

Herbal remedies like butterbur extract; alternative therapies like acupuncture.