At the height of allergy season, as many as 60 million Americans suffer from hay fever. The allergic are familiar with the dreaded symptoms—runny nose, frequent sneezing, itchiness—that are caused by the condition. While the majority of symptoms are generally harmless, hay fever has also been shown to increase an individual’s risk of developing asthma.
What is Hay Fever?
In clinical terms, hay fever is referred to as seasonal allergic rhinitis. Unlike perennial (year-round) allergic rhinitis, hay fever is typically a seasonal condition caused from an allergic reaction. Despite its colloquial title, hay fever is actually triggered by pollens, trees, weeds and grasses (not hay) and does not cause a fever.
What is Asthma?
There are two different types of asthma. Allergic (atopic) asthma occurs following the exposure to an allergen. Non-allergic (non-atopic) asthma occurs without the presence of an allergen. Both versions of the disease involve the long-term inflammation of the lungs and can result in difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing and chest tightness.
How Does Hay Fever Cause Asthma?
In order to understand how hay fever can be responsible for asthma, we first need to explain the process of an allergic reaction. An allergic response occurs when the body’s immune system mistakes a harmless substance—take pollen, for example—as dangerous and uses antibodies to attack. Typically, this reaction evokes symptoms in the nose, eyes and skin. In some cases, an allergic reaction can also occur in the lung and airways. When left untreated, these allergic symptoms can lead to the development of allergic asthma.
Can Hay Fever and Asthma Be Treated?
Fortunately, hay fever and allergic asthma can be treated by a specialist. In order to do so, your doctor will conduct an allergy test and make a formal diagnosis of your condition. Treating the underlying cause of hay fever will improve asthma control and help to manage symptoms. Your doctor may recommend immunotherapy, which treats hay fever and asthma by increasing your tolerance to allergens over time.
Don’t be a victim to your allergies. If you’ve suffered from season or chronic allergies, an ear, nose and throat doctor can help. An ENT specialist will help you take control of your allergy symptoms and achieve long-lasting relief. To schedule a consultation with a premiere ear, nose and throat doctor in San Diego, contact our team today. Our team of highly specialized physicians use the most advanced diagnostics and therapeutic technology to provide individualized care. To learn more about our wide range of services, call us at (858) 909-0770!