Symptoms and Signs of Hay Fever

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Hay Fever

Hay fever (also termed allergic rhinitis) is a non-specific somewhat misleading term (fever is not usually a symptom) that refer to the signs and symptoms many people develop with the change of seasons. Classic signs and symptoms of hay fever are itchy, puffy and watery eyes plus a red, stuffy nose that appears at the change of seasons, especially when heavy concentrations of pollen and/or mold spores are airborne. Other signs and symptoms may include sneezing, bloodshot eyes, fatigue, ear stuffiness and difficulty sleeping.

The cause of hay fever is the body’s overactive immune response to antigens on pollen, molds or other airborne compounds that trigger the production of chemicals like histamine that produce symptoms. These antigens can be eaten, swallowed, or contact mucus membranes where immune system cells recognize them as foreign substances and react.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.