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Hay Fever

Hay fever symptoms are one of the most common symptoms to which a person seeks advice from an ENT specialist.

Hay fever symptoms include:

Runny nose and/or nasal congestion.
Watery, itchy, red eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)
Sneezing (usually repetitive)
Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
Swollen, blue-colored skin under the eyes (allergic shiners)
Postnasal drip

Many people who have hay fever symptoms feel that they get sick often.   In fact, they believe they have a weak immune system and often resort to immune vitamins (which do not work). The reason why they 'get sick often' is not due to a 'weak' immune system but actually the activation of the immune system when it is not really needed (against pollen and other allergens).  In fact, people get these flu like symptoms often because their hay fever symptoms remain untreated for a very long time.

Unfortunately there is no cure for hay fever symptoms.  However, symptoms can be controlled with the use of medications.  Many people resort to using nasal decongestants which if used up to 7 days are safe.  The problem is that once the nasal decongestant spray is stopped the hay fever symptoms usually return since the allergen would still be present after 7 days (e.g. pollen).  In fact, many hay fever symptom sufferers end up using nasal decongestant sprays for longer then 7 days which causes medical problems.  The first serious problem is that many become 'addicted' to the decongestant blocking effects of the medicine. 

The addiction referred to as Rhinitis medicamentosa (RM), also known as rebound rhinitis, is a condition characterized by nasal congestion that is triggered by the overuse of topical vasoconstrictive medications, most notably intranasal decongestants. The patient notices that when the decongestant effect subsides, nasal congestion is worse than it originally was. The patient who reuses the decongestant may find that doses must be increased and intervals between use must be shortened. Thus, the patient displays the classic phenomenon of medication tolerance, in which larger and larger doses of an abused substance are necessary to achieve the same effect as the initial dose.

Hay fever symptoms are best managed by ENT specialists who may use nasal corticosteroids, anthistamines and other medications which do not cause harm long term compared to nasal decongestants.

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