If you've got hay fever, can you spread it to someone else? What is hay fever, anyway, and what causes it? In this blog from Premier Allergy & Asthma, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about hay fever. Spring is almost upon us, so read on and learn a bit more about what to expect if you or a loved one has hay fever.
First of all, “hay fever” is not a type of fever at all. It’s a type of seasonal allergic reaction. And because of that, it’s not contagious, unlike a fever caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Hay fever got its name sometime in the early 1800s, before the modern “germ theory of disease” was even widely known or accepted.
The medically accepted term for hay fever is “allergic rhinitis.” Allergic rhinitis causes some symptoms that are similar to the common cold, which is another reason some people may think that hay fever is contagious, and can be spread between people.
But while hay fever does share some symptoms with the common cold, such as congestion, a runny nose, and sneezing, it’s distinct in a lot of ways. For example, someone with hay fever will never have an actual fever, and coughing is rare. Symptoms like itchy or watery eyes and an itchy throat are also almost never present in the common cold.
So don’t worry. If you get hay fever in the spring or you know someone who does, it’s not contagious. And with some allergy medication like antihistamines, you can treat the symptoms and get relief during the spring, when hay fever tends to be at its worst.
Hay fever can be caused by just about any allergen. Grass pollen is a common cause, which is how it originally got its name centuries ago. However, depending on the time of year that you suffer from allergies, it may be caused by a few different types of allergens.
In the early spring, tree pollen is the most common cause of hay fever. If you tend to get your allergies in the late spring and summer, it may be due to grass pollen. And in the late summer and fall, hay fever may be caused by ragweed. However, hay fever can also affect you during the winter, and even indoors. Things like fungi, mold, dust mites, pet dander, and other allergens may cause allergic rhinitis, and uncomfortable symptoms like itching eyes, a runny nose, and more.
Most people who suffer from allergic rhinitis can get relief with drugs called antihistamines. These are widely available over-the-counter without a prescription, though stronger drugs may require a prescription.
Basically, these drugs help minimize your body’s immune response to allergens like pollen. This, in turn, reduces the symptoms of hay fever, and lets you get back to your daily routine. However, for more severe cases, special allergy shots or steroids may be necessary.
Avoidance is also a viable treatment option. If the amount of pollen or other allergens is particularly high (often during midday or the early afternoon), you may opt to stay indoors. Eliminating allergens from your indoor environment is also important for helping with hay fever.
At Premier Allergy & Asthma, we’re here to help with seasonal allergies all throughout Central Ohio. If you suffer from uncomfortable and inconvenient allergies, we’re here to help. Our experienced allergists can get to the bottom of your allergies, identify the cause, and provide you with the treatment you need to eliminate your symptoms. Contact us online to book your appointment, and take the first steps toward relief today.
Returning Patient? Please contact our office at (614) 328-9927 to schedule an appointment. Thank you.