HAYFEVER AND RHINITIS
Every year thousands of people across Australia experience the discomfort of hay fever. Some people only have symptoms during particular season. Others have hay fever-like symptoms all year round (called 'perennial allergic rhinitis').
Hay fever and perennial rhinitis – what are they?
Hay fever is a seasonal condition. It is sometimes called 'seasonal allergic rhinitis'. People with hay fever are allergic to pollen and spores. Pollen is the tiny, dust-like particles given off by certain types of trees, grasses, weeds and flowers. Spores are given off by fungi and moulds.
In some people, hay fever-like symptoms occur all year round. This condition is called 'perennial allergic rhinitis' (or perennial rhinitis). This is usually caused by an allergy to allergens present in everyday life, such as house-dust mites, furry or feathery animals, certain chemicals or some foods.
If you have an allergy, your body reacts when you come into contact with certain allergens. As soon as you inhale them, or if they get into your eyes, they irritate the sensitive linings of your nose, throat and eyes. This causes the symptoms of hay fever or perennial rhinitis to appear.
What are the symptoms?
Typical symptoms of hay fever and perennial rhinitis are:
Itchy, blocked or runny nose
Red, itchy or watery eyes
Itchy throat, inner ear or mouth
Loss of concentration and generally feeling unwell.
Different people will experience different symptoms. Some people might experience all the symptoms. Others might experience only a couple.
The common cold can often be confused with hay fever and perennial rhinitis because they all cause similar symptoms. However, a cold normally lasts for around a week. Sneezing, a streaming nose and itchy eyes which persist for a few weeks may well be due to either hay fever or perennial rhinitis.
Allergens can also trigger asthma symptoms: tight chest, shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing. If this happens to you, speak to your doctor or nurse as soon as possible. They will give you medicines to help you control these symptoms.