Spring fever vs. hay fever: Either way, it’s allergy season

Spring fever vs. hay fever: Either way, it’s allergy season

Cold weather is something we all get used to in the Midwest. So, spring fever tends to set in early.

But for many, the spring season means allergies and even hay fever. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hay fever is one of the most common types of allergies.

Hay fever symptoms are similar to a cold: sneezing, runny nose, congestion and sinus pressure. The difference is that hay fever is not caused by a virus. It is an allergic reaction to those indoor and outdoor allergens that we breathe in every day, such as pollen, dust and even pet dander. During the warm-weather months, increased tree and grass pollen, fungi and molds can bring on hay fever.

Dr. Hetal Amin, allergist on staff at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill. says that some people may have these symptoms all year-round, but many will have them at certain times of the year, like the spring.

“It’s recommended that on days when pollen counts are high, take allergy medication as a preventive measure to alleviate hay fever symptoms,” Amin says.

According to Amin, other hay fever symptoms include: post-nasal drip and burning or itchy eyes, nose and throat.

“It’s important to keep your windows closed and run your air conditioning to filter out pollen, mold and dust particulates during those months,” he says.

Amin adds that untreated hay fever can result in sinus and ear infections. It can also cause asthma symptoms, such as shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness.

“The best treatment is to avoid the substances that cause your reaction,” Amin says. “If you are exposed, take a shower, wash your hands, eyes and hair to remove any allergens.”

An allergist can perform different tests, such as a skin scratch test or blood test, for environmental aeroallergens to determine the source of your hay fever, thereby, alerting you of the allergens to avoid. However, avoidance isn’t always possible, and you may need additional treatments.

Over-the-counter medications, such as anti-histamines, saline sinus rinses or decongestants can be used for less severe hay fever. For more severe symptoms, your doctor may recommend prescription medications or allergy injections.

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About the Author

Sarah Scroggins
Sarah Scroggins

Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Aurora Health. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.