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 tiny flecks of skin and saliva shed by cats, dogs and other animals with fur or feathers (pet dander).
Besides making you miserable, hay fever can affect your performance at work or school and generally interfere with your life. But you don't have to put up with annoying symptoms. You can learn to avoid triggers and find the right treatment.
Hay fever signs and symptoms can include:
Your hay fever signs and symptoms may start or worsen at a particular time of year. Triggers include:
Signs and symptoms can be similar, so it can be difficult to tell which one you have.
|Signs and symptoms||Runny nose with thin, watery discharge; no fever||Runny nose with watery or thick yellow discharge; body aches; low-grade fever|
|Onset||Immediately after exposure to allergens||1-3 days after exposure to a cold virus|
|Duration||As long as you're exposed to allergens||3-7 days|
See your doctor if:
Many people — especially children — get used to hay fever symptoms, so they might not seek treatment until the symptoms become severe. But getting the right treatment might offer relief.