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What is Hay Fever?
Put simply: Hay Fever is allergies!

"Hayfever" is an old term meaning allergies, that many associate with the spring and summer months.

Why Is It Called Hay Fever?

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The term is a historical reference to the season in which many people suffered from its symptoms: the fall harvest or the hay-pitching season. During the spring and summer months, there is a lot of pollen floating around in the air from both trees and grasses. Laborers outsied would get allergies from the pollen, and associate it with the activities going on around them. We can only assume that the itchy eyes, runny noses, and congested feelings were made worse by all of the debri put into the air during the cutting and pitching the hay! Hence, the name!

hay fever

So, even though more than a hundred years has past since the average person spent their summers farming and cutting hay, hayfever still remains a popular term to describe this seasonal affliction.

Learn more about Hay Fever Season .

What Is The Medical Term?

Your doctor won't diagnose you with fever. Instead he will call it allergic rhinitis which is the medical term for allergies and a runny nose. In fact, rhin is derived from the Greek word meaning nose and -itis is also a Greek word meaning diseas. Therefore, rhinitis actually means "disease or affliction of the nose".

Hay fever is also often referred to as seasonal rhinitis because it comes and goes with the spring and fall seasons and lets up during the winter when fewer allergens are present.

What Causes Hay Fever?

flowers cause hay fever

Allergic rhinitis is caused by allergens in the air. During the spring and summer seasons, trees, flowers, and grasses release vast quantities of pollen into the air.

When you inhale, or come in contact with pollen spores that you are allergic to, it causes inflammation, itchy eyes, runny noses, and and a wide range of other symptoms.

Other irritants that can trigger hay fever include mold, feathers, and dust mites (microscopic-sized insects that feed off of dead human skin cells). These irritants are present in some pillows, down clothing, draperies, upholstery, thick carpeting, and bedding.

Am I More or Less Likely to Suffer?

You are more likely to suffer an allergic reaction from pollen if there is a family history of conditions such as asthma or skin conditions such as eczema.

Some people may have a hypersensitivity to pet dander which can also prompt an allergic reaction. Allergic rhinitis is commonly is accompanied by a range of symptoms involving the eyes, ears, and throat.

Why Do I React to Allergens?

What is Hay Fever Caused By? Have you ever touched something hot, and whipped your hand away from it within a fraction of a second?

Odds are you didn't think about whether you were going to get burned or not before you moved your hand. Your body racted automatically in order to protect you. Your bodyies reaction is similar!

Your body automatically reacts in order to protect you from foreign allergens such as pollen. To do this, the human body releases histamines which cause itching of the nose, watery eyes and sneezing.

Unfortunately, most of these allergens are harmless, but your body often doesn't know that.

How To Diagnose Hay Fever

Hay Fever Symptoms

Diagnosis starts with understanding the symptoms and determining if these match what you are experiencing.

Symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Itchy Eyes
  • Congestion
  • Stuffy Nose

For a full list of symptoms, see our Hay Fever Symptoms page to learn more.

How Can I Prevent Hay Fever?


Although 100% prevention is very unusual, reducing your symptoms is not that difficult.

Effective treatment simply requires avoidance of environmental causes, the appropriate use of medications or prescribed curative treatments and establishing a solid physician/patient/family support system.

For a comprehensive list of treatment options, see our Hay Fever Treatment page.