Most people are intimately familiar with the telltale signs of allergies during spring or early summer. Some of the best indicators of changes in seasons seem to be the puffy, watery, itchy eyes, along with stuffy noses. People with these symptoms suffer from a condition known as allergic rhinitis, or hay fever.
* What is hay fever?
Simply put, hay fever is an allergic reaction. This reaction is how a body’s immune system responds to encountering foreign material in the air it breathes. In general, hay fever is usually referring to outdoor allergies that occur from airborne particles like pollens or molds. One of the most common suppliers of this pollen is timothy grass, which is found in abundance all throughout the United States. The condition’s medical name, rhinitis, is derived from its most common symptom, a red stuffy, itchy nose.
* Who is affected?
Hay fever appears to be an equal opportunity medical condition. Men and women seem to be affected by it equally, as it plagues approximately 15-20 % of the country’s population. People in rural areas are much more likely to suffer from hay fever due to the higher concentrations of allergens in the air. While it is seasonal in nature, hay fever can last year round if the allergens are present throughout the entire year.
* How is hay fever treated?
The best treatment is to simply avoid all potential allergen producers. Since this is not always possible, those suffering from hay fever may find it soothing to gargle with warm salt water. Other non-prescription drugs can be helpful, such as antihistamines to relieve runny noses, sneezing, and irritated eyes and throats. As with many medications, precautions should be taken with antihistamines when driving or operating heavy machinery because they could lead to drowsiness.
* What is the biggest cause of hay fever?
Most medical professional believe timothy grass to be the leading cause of hay fever in individuals today. It is one of the world’s most common grasses and a common source of animal fodder. Generally, timothy grass grows best in cool, humid climates, but it has also been known to thrive in warmer areas. Timothy grass flowers in early to middle summer and is a very common ingredient in hay.
* Why does timothy grass cause hay fever?
Timothy grass pollens seem to share some of the common allergens with many fruits and vegetables, such as peanuts, tomatoes, and kiwi. Also, it is known to have some of the same materials in common with latex allergens. This is believed to explain why some allergy patients also have a reaction to latex gloves. When these allergens enter the body, the immune system reacts by inducing stuffy noses, itchy eyes, and other common symptoms of hay fever.
The relationship between timothy grass and hay fever is one of convenience. Timothy grass is extremely abundant and it contains most of the allergens that result in hay fever. Avoiding these allergens altogether seems to be the only way to prevent the accompanying symptoms. But for most people, that simply isn’t an option.