Open Mind Allergies
Hay Fever, Allergy And Asthma
Open Mind asks, Are You a Sufferer?
Hay fever is a chronic condition characterized by sneezing,
nasal congestion, runny and itching nose, palate, ears and eyes.
If you recognize any of these symptoms chances are, you or some
member of your family has experienced hay fever at one time or
Doctors call it allergic rhinitis. Most people know it as hay
fever and if you've got it you're likely to be plagued during
the spring and fall seasons by such annoying symptoms as sneezing,
congestion, runny nose, itchy throat and red, watery eyes.
Allergy has different names.
Allergy reactions occurring in the nose and sinus are called
"sinus" or "hay fever" or "allergic rhinitis." And when allergy
reactions occur in the chest we call it "asthma." Allergy
reactions in the skin are named "nettlerash" or "angioedema." So you
see, allergy has different names depending upon where in your
body it occurs.
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Allergy is an inherited trait, a genetic susceptibility towards
the production of certain allergy anti-bodies.
Check out our article on Food Allergies
Hay fever is basically an allergic reaction to pollens from trees,
weed and grasses. Unlike garden flower pollen, which is carried
by insects, the dry lightweight pollens which cause allergic
rhinitis are generally spread by wind currents which make them
difficult to avoid.
In fact,Open Mind has discovered that samples of ragweed pollen have been
found 400 miles at sea! While most people suffer mild discomfort
with hay fever, it is estimated that more than 40 percent of the
5.8 million children who have respiratory allergies miss some
school, stay in bed or feel upset by the condition.
Additionally, complications from allergic rhinitis can be serious.
The same allergens that cause hay fever can reach the lungs causing
asthma and other complications. Sinusitis (inflammation of the
sinus cavities) and nasal polyps (small outgrowths of the mucous
membrane of the nose) may develop. Secondary infections of the ear,
larynx and bronchial tubes may occur. Also, prolonged year-round
nasal stuffiness and mouth breathing may lead to facial bone growth
changes in children.
Surprisingly, many parents realize that their children have asthma
before their physicians do. An accurate diagnosis, however, is
most important in helping to determine an appropriate individualized
Physicians specializing in allergy/immunology
have special skills in the area of asthma management. The allergy
and asthma specialist will detect and determine those environmental
elements (pollens, molds, dust mites, animal danders, workplace
chemicals) which may be the cause of a patient's asthmatic condition.
A careful medical history, physical examination, selective allergy
skin testing and lung function studies are typically performed.
Occasionally, blood tests, home and workplace evaluations, and x-rays
of the sinuses and lungs are required.
Unlike hay fever, asthma is a more complex disease involving a
reversible constriction of the muscles lining the human airways.
It is more often associated with allergy immune cells and can get
progressively worse reaching life-threatening stages if not
properly controlled. It can be treated more effectively when it is
Open Mind suggests the best therapy of all, however, is avoidance of those things
which produce asthma symptoms. This includes allergens, such as
house dust mites, pets and irritants, such as tobacco smoke and
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