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Hay Fever: How Does It Feel like?

Some experts consider hay fever to be the epidemic of the 21 century, because the prevalence of this disorder has doubled over the last 20 years and reached the levels, when practically 20% of people, living in the USA, suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis, which is the scientific name for hay fever.

This allergic disorder has a very long history. Scientists say that even dinosaurs could suffer from this form of allergy. However, since dinosaurs could not write, ancient people of Egypt and Greece were the first to make the earliest known records of hay fever. For example, it is known that the king Menses of Egypt, who suffered from allergies, died because of a wasp sting. The Roman philosopher Lucretius, observing exaggerated responses to commonly occurring substances, said "what is food for some may be fierce poisons for others”, thus giving perhaps the first explanation of allergic reaction in humans.

It is interesting to note, that just like chicken pox has nothing to do with chicken, hay fever has nothing to do with hay or fever. Nowadays, the disorder is defined as the medical condition, characterized with the allergic response of human organism to pollen or other microscopic substances that are present only at certain times of the year.

Since the word “rhinitis” is derived from two Greek words, meaning “nose” and “illness”, it is obvious that symptoms and signs of hay fever or allergic rhinitis take place mostly in the human upper respiratory tract, including but not limited to noseJ

Common Signs of Hay Fever

Runny nose
Stuffy nose
Eyes itching
Watery eyes
Sore throat
Plugged up ears
Facial pressure

First of all, hay fever means the swelling and redness of the nose, sinuses and the mucus membranes in the nose. That is why the first symptom a person suffers during hay fever period is repeated and prolonged sneezing. In this way the human organism tries to get rid of the allergen.

Stuffy nose (nasal congestion) is another key sign of allergic rhinitis. This is accompanied with the thin, watery discharge from the nose. These symptoms of hay fever may be very similar to the symptoms of cold; however, there are several essential differences. Unlike cold, hay fever is not associated with the increase of body temperature, and it lasts as long as the human is exposed to allergens (while it usually takes 5-7 days for a human body to overwhelm cold).

By the way, hay fever may affect not only nose: throat, skin and eyes may also show the signs of allergic rhinitis. For example, conjunctivitis and itching may develop in the eyes after exposure to some allergen in the air. By the way, a person, suffering from hay fever, may have swollen, blue-colored skin under the eyes (so called “allergic shiners”). Itchy roof of mouth or throat also belong to the symptoms of hay fever.

Sleeplessness, fatigue, headache, irritability and flushing may be the consequences of suffering from severe hay fever symptoms. Moreover, the allergic processes in the nose may lead to impaired smell, when the sensitivity to flavors decreases.

Finally, it is interesting to mention one more vivid sign of hay fever. It is said that a person, experiencing allergic rhinitis, frequently rubs his nose with the index finger; and this is the so called "allergic salute."


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