Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
Hay Fever (Allergic Rhinitis) (for Teenagers)
- You have a clear nasal discharge and an itchy nose and
are sneezing and sniffing.
- The symptoms occur during pollen season.
- Similar symptoms occurred during the same month or months
of the previous year.
- You may also have itchy, watery eyes (eye allergies).
- You may also have sinus or ear congestion.
Hay fever is an allergic reaction of the nose (and sinuses)
to an inhaled substance. This allergic sensitivity is often
inherited. During late April and May the most common
offending pollen is from trees. From late May to mid-July,
the offending pollen is usually grass. From late August to
the first frost, the leading cause of hay fever is ragweed
pollen. Although the inhaled substance is usually a pollen,
it can also be animal dander or something else you are
Hay fever is the most common allergy. More than 15% of
people have it.
This is a chronic condition that will probably recur every
year, perhaps for a lifetime. Therefore, it is important to
learn how to control it.
- Oral antihistamine medicine
The best drug for hay fever is an antihistamine. It
will relieve nose and eye symptoms. You need the
antihistamine recommended by your physician. (Some
effective nonprescription antihistamines are Chlor-
Trimeton, Dimetane, and Teldrin.)
Symptoms clear up faster if antihistamines are given at
the first sign of sneezing or sniffing. For people with
occasional symptoms, antihistamines can be taken on days
when symptoms are present or expected. For people with
daily symptoms the best control is attained if
antihistamines are taken continuously (several times
each day) throughout the pollen season.
The main side effect of antihistamines is drowsiness.
If you become drowsy, switch to a combination product
that contains an antihistamine with a decongestant (such
as pseudoephedrine or phenylpropanolamine). If you
remain drowsy, continue the drug, but temporarily
decrease the dosage. You should become tolerant of the
regular dosage in 1 to 2 weeks.
- Prescription nasal sprays
If antihistamines only give partial relief of symptoms,
severe hay fever can usually be controlled by new
cromolyn or steroid nasal sprays. Allergy shots are
usually not necessary.
These prescription nasal sprays must be used when the
nose is not dripping. Take an antihistamine to stop the
dripping before you use the spray. Nasal sprays do not
help eye symptoms. Therefore they are usually used
along with oral antihistamines. Use the nasal spray
recommended by your doctor.
- Pollen removal to decrease symptoms of hay fever
Pollen tends to collect on the exposed body surfaces and
especially in the hair. Shower and wash your hair every
night before going to bed. Avoid handling pets that
have been outside and are probably covered with pollen.
- Prevention of hay fever symptoms
Exposure to pollen can be reduced by not going on drives
in the country and by not sitting by an open car window
on necessary drives. You should stay away from someone
cutting the grass during pollen season. When it is
windy or the pollen count is especially high, you should
stay indoors. Close the windows that face the
If your hay fever is especially bad, consider going to
an air-conditioned store or theater for a few hours.
Avoid feather pillows, pets, farms, stables, and tobacco
smoke if any of them seem to bring on symptoms of nasal
- Eye allergies associated with hay fever
If you also have itchy, watery eyes, wash your face and
eyelids to remove pollen. Then apply a cold, wet cloth
to the eyelids for 10 minutes. An oral antihistamine
will usually bring the eye symptoms under control. If
not, put two drops of long-acting vasoconstrictor
eyedrops (a nonprescription item) in your eys every 8 to
12 hours for a few days. Ask your pharmacist to
recommend a reliable product.
- Common mistakes
Vasoconstrictor nosedrops or nasal sprays usually do not
help hay fever because they are washed out by nasal
secretions as soon as they have been put into the nose.
Also, if they are used for more than 5 days, they can
irritate the nose and make it more congested.
Call Your Physician During Office Hours If:
- Your symptoms are not controlled in 2 days with
- You develop sinus pain or pressure.
- You have other concerns or questions.