Hay Fever: a Danger for Teens

Written By: Emma Squillace

It’s estimated that 50 million people in the US deal with allergies. For some, it’s easy to understand that a potentially fatal peanut allergy is a big deal, but what about hay fever? For people who do not suffer with allergies, it’s easy to dismiss seemingly ‘minor’ allergy symptoms as an annoyance. However, for people who spend months at a time dealing with issues like having trouble breathing, a constantly runny nose, and itchy eyes, these symptoms can affect their overall quality of life. A new study shows how seriously hay fever can affect adolescents in particular.

Hay fever

First, let’s look at exactly what hay fever means. Despite its name, hay fever is not about having a fever. It is a set of allergic symptoms that mirror a cold many ways. Symptoms of hay fever often include:

  • Congestion & difficulty breathing
  • Runny nose
  • Red, itchy eyes that water
  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Itching in your nose mouth, or throat
  • Bluish skin under your eyes that can feel or appear swollen
  • Fatigue

Hay fever vs. a cold

It can be difficult to tell the difference between hay fever and a cold because the symptoms are very similar. A cold, however, is generally gone within 7 – 10 days. If you’ve had what seem like cold symptoms for over 2 weeks, you should be evaluated by an allergy specialist like those at West Medical. Additionally, cold symptoms may start up after a few days of being exposed to a cold. Hay fever symptoms will generally flare up instantly in the presence of known allergens.

There are also subtle differences between a cold and hay fever. For instance, a cold can come with body aches and a low grade fever, which you generally will not have with hay fever. Also, if the discharge from your nose is thick, this is more often associated with a cold. If the discharge is watery, this is more often hay fever.

Hay fever and teens: a new study

A new article was published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. This article examined adolescents with hay fever, and found that they have higher rates of depression and anxiety, and exhibit more hostility. It’s believed that adolescents are particularly affected by hay fever, in part because sleep is so important to this age group, and allergies can interfere with sleep quality and sleep length. Hay fever may also make it more difficult to participate in sports, concentrate in school, and take part in important adolescent rites of passage like learning to drive.

Possible causes of breathing problems

Allergy symptoms can be worse if you have another ear, nose, or throat condition aggravating your symptoms. In these cases, it’s even more important to be evaluated for allergies and other conditions, especially because there are a range of treatment options that can improve your breathing and quality of life. Other ear, nose, and throat conditions can include:

While teens may ‘get used to’ hay fever symptoms, they can have a major impact in their life. There are treatments for allergies that can help you or your teen return to a full life. The ear, nose, and throat experts at West Medical are happy to see you and help you understand your treatment options. You can reach us at (855) 690-0565.

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