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What is hay fever?

Published On: Nov 04 2013 01:18:47 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 18 2013 03:40:07 PM CST

By Mayo Clinic News Network

Hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis, causes cold-like signs and symptoms, such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing and sinus pressure. But unlike a cold, hay fever isn't caused by a virus. Hay fever is caused by an allergic response to outdoor or indoor allergens, such as pollen, dust mites or pet dander.

Hay fever can make you miserable and affect your performance at work or school and interfere with leisure activities. But you don't have to put up with annoying symptoms.

The best hay fever treatment is to avoid the substances that cause your reaction. However, this isn't always possible, and you may need additional treatments along with strategies to prevent exposure.

If your hay fever isn't too severe, over-the-counter medications may be enough to ease your symptoms. For more bothersome symptoms, you may need to take prescription medications. Many people get the best relief from a combination of allergy medications. It may take trying a few before you figure out what works best for you.

If your child has hay fever, talk with your doctor about the best treatment. Some medications are approved for use in children, while others are approved only for adults. If you want to try an over-the-counter medication for your child, be sure to read the labels carefully.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hay-fever/DS00174/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs