What Is the Connection Between Hay Fever and Sinus Pain?
Contrary to what the name may suggest, hay fever isn’t actually a type of fever, and it’s not typically triggered by hay. In fact, it is an allergic condition that is created by the immune system’s response to the environment. Hay fever is also very common and affects at least 40 to 60 million Americans.
The medical name for the condition is allergic rhinitis and there are two distinct types that people suffer from. Seasonal hay fever strikes at times when certain plants pollinate, while perennial hay fever symptoms can last all throughout the year.
This article will explore what hay fever is, how to treat it, and its connection to sinus pain.
Causes of Hay Fever
Tree pollen is the most common cause of hay fever in the spring, and grass pollen can cause this type of allergic reaction in the summer. Weeds often cause hay fever in the autumn, and fungal spores can create symptoms all throughout the year. However, if someone experiences hay fever all year long, it is likely due to indoor allergens. These may include pet dander, dust mites, and mold. Toxic irritants, such as cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes, can also trigger hay fever symptoms.
Symptoms of Hay Fever
The most common symptoms of are stuffy nose, runny nose, itchy eyes, watery eyes, and sneezing. It is also possible to experience itchy skin and fatigue due to poor quality of sleep while experiencing nasal blockages.
Hay Fever and the Sinuses
Hay fever directly correlates to the sinuses in a few key ways. When the body overreacts to allergens, it pumps histamine, leukotrienes, and other responsive chemicals into the blood. This process inflames the lining of the sinuses, eyelids, and nasal passages to create the symptoms noted above.
The symptoms are the body’s natural way of protecting itself by trapping the allergen at the point of entry. This is why it’s common to experience swollen and painful sinuses due to this blockage. If sinus drainage openings are blocked, sinusitis and sinus headaches may result. This is most common among people with perennial hay fever who experience symptoms year-around.
Who Is Most at Risk of Hay Fever?
Essentially anyone can breathe in allergens and have the body interpret them as dangerous substances that warrant fighting off. However, there is also a genetic component to hay fever, as most people with this condition have parents that have also suffered from it. Individuals who have asthma and eczema are also more likely to develop hay fever.
Treatments for Hay Fever
The best way to prevent the symptoms of hay fever is to avoid known irritants and allergens as much as possible. This means staying indoors during high pollen periods, using mite-proof bedding in bedrooms, treating mold in the home, and washing hands after touching animals.
Decongestants and antihistamines are often recommended by doctors to treat the symptoms of hay fever. At-home remedies, including saline sprays, may help to remove allergens from the nose. In severe cases, a physician may discuss the possibility of immunotherapy, which is a long-term treatment designed to lower the body’s response to various types of allergens.
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