An estimated 18 million Americans are affected by hay fever – also known as seasonal allergies. Are you one of the millions who finds that seasonal weather changes result in symptoms that affect your upper respiratory system and eyes?
While hay fever can be uncomfortable, it usually doesn’t pose a serious threat to your health. But it can be helpful to work with an allergy doctor and eye doctor to manage the symptoms, helping to improve your comfort during allergy season.
Common Hay Fever Symptoms
Specific allergy symptoms vary from one person to the next, but the most common symptoms include:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Nasal congestion
- Postnasal drip
- Sinus pain and pressure behind the eyes
- Itching skin
Reducing exposure to the known allergens can help to reduce these symptoms. You might also consider individual treatments for the relief of specific symptoms.
Hay Fever vs. Seasonal Cold and Flu
One common question is how to tell the difference between hay fever and seasonal illness? These are the most critical factors that distinguish the differences:
- Timing: Hay fever symptoms start immediately after you are exposed to an allergen. Cold symptoms don’t begin until a few days after exposure to a virus.
- Duration: If you have hay fever, then the symptoms will continue for weeks or months. On the other hand, a head cold or the flu will subside within 3 – 10 days.
- Symptoms: Nasal discharge from seasonal allergies is usually watery and thin. Head colds often cause thicker discharge that is discolored (yellow or green).
- Fever: When you have hay fever, the symptoms will not be accompanied by a fever. On the other hand, head colds are usually accompanied by a fever.
The best way to determine if you have an illness or seasonal allergies is to talk to a doctor for an official diagnosis.
Long-Term Consequences of Hay Fever
Even though hay fever symptoms are minor, untreated symptoms can often lead to complications in the future. When the allergic response continues, you might notice some of these other health issues:
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Chronic headaches
- Poor sleep quality
- Recurring sinus infections
- Clogged ears
- Ear infections
- Swelling around the eyes
- Allergic conjunctivitis
- Reduced sense of smell
Some people find that the symptoms start gradually, then continue to intensify when left untreated.
Treatment Options for Hay Fever
As long as you are exposed to allergens without treatment, you can expect your symptoms to continue. The most common allergens that cause hay fever include:
- Mold or fungus
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
- Cigarette smoke
The best solution is to reduce your exposure to these things whenever possible. Also, antihistamines, eye drops, and other allergy medications can be used to control the allergic response happening within your body. It’s best to talk to an experienced doctor before using any medical treatments.
If you have hay fever symptoms that are affecting your eyes, then our team can help you find relief. Contact us to schedule an appointment and learn more about available treatment options. We’re here to help with all of your eye care needs!