Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is a legitimate medical problem. Fortunately, it responds well to treatment, reports the May 2009 issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch.

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis may include a stuffy, runny nose, sneezing and coughing, an itchy or sore throat, and itchy, burning, watery eyes. Seasonal allergic rhinitis comes and goes as various plants come into bloom. Symptoms that occur in the spring indicate a probable allergy to tree pollen; in the summer, grass and weed pollens; in the late summer and fall, ragweed. Year-round symptoms usually indicate an allergy to dust mites, mold, animal dander, or other indoor allergens.

Three strategies can keep allergic rhinitis in check: avoid triggers; ease symptoms with medications such as antihistamine tablets or nasal sprays, nasal steroid sprays, leukotriene blockers, and decongestants; and get immunotherapy (allergy shots).

Harvard Men’s Health Watch notes some steps to take to help seasonal rhinitis:
  • Limit outdoor activities when pollen counts are high. If you have to do yard work, wear an N95 face mask. Shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes afterwards.
  • Keep windows and doors closed as much as possible.
  • Use air conditioners instead of fans.
For year-round allergic rhinitis:
  • Put pillows, box springs, and mattresses in sealed plastic covers to keep out dust mites. Wash bedding in hot water.
  • Use a dehumidifier.
  • If you have a dog or cat, bathe it weekly and keep it off the furniture.
Read the full-length article: “Allergic rhinitis: Your nose knows”