Allergic rhinitis is an allergic response to outdoor allergens. When airborne pollen or spores reach intense levels, seasonal allergic rhinitis occurs. It is commonly called hay fever, though this isn’t an accurate title. Triggers of seasonal allergy in the U.S. include:
- Ragweed, the most common cause of allergic rhinitis in the U.S., affects about 75% of allergy sufferers. One plant can release 1 million pollen grains a day. Ragweed exists everywhere in the U.S., though isn’t as common in western coastal states, southern Florida, northern Maine, Alaska, and Hawaii. The effects of ragweed in the northern states are first felt in middle to late August and last until the first frost. Ragweed allergies tend to be most severe before midday.
- Grasses affect people in mid-May to late June. Grass allergies are experienced more in the late afternoon.
- Tree pollen grains from certain trees usually produce symptoms in late March and early April.
- Mold spores that grow on dead leaves and release spores into the air are common allergens throughout the spring, summer and fall. Mold spores may peak on dry windy afternoons or on damp or rainy days in the early morning.
These triggers exist in Utah. Check out the link at the top of our website to see the current pollen count in the air.
About 50 million Americans of all ages are affected by allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever. This problem increasing in incidence, as are asthma and many upper respiratory infections. Allergic rhinitis is the most common chronic condition in childhood, though it can develop at any age. Allergies most often appear in childhood. About 20 percent of allergic rhinitis cases are due to seasonal allergies, 40 percent to perennial (chronic) rhinitis, and the rest are mixed. Genetics appears to play a role in allergic rhinitis. People with a parent who has allergic rhinitis have an increased risk of developing allergic rhinitis themselves. This risk increases significantly if both parents have allergic rhinitis.
Treatment can take many different forms. We may recommend certain measures for controlling your environment. Nasal washes and medications that reduce inflammatory response can be important for preventing moderate or severe allergic rhinitis. Nasal corticosteroids (commonly called steroids) are now considered to be the most effective measure for preventing allergy attacks. Antihistamines are given to relieve sneezing and itching, and can prevent nasal congestion. Immunotherapy (“allergy shots”) may be considered as well. They may also prevent or help manage asthma and the development of new allergies in children.