The typical symptoms of hay fever such as runny nose, sneezing attacks and itchy, watery eyes can make it difficult for those affected. Due to a so-called cross allergy, a food allergy can additionally occur. Hay fever symptoms should not be ignored for another reason: hay fever can turn into allergic asthma after some time. Read all about pollen allergy symptoms here.
Hay fever symptoms: how do they develop?
In hay fever, the body is allergic to proteins from plant pollen in the ambient air (aeroallergens). Where the body comes into contact with these pollen (nose, eyes), the typical symptoms of hay fever show up. The pollen proteins trigger the release of inflammatory messengers such as histamine: these dilate the blood vessels, causing the nasal mucosa to swell. In addition, the inflammatory messengers lure cells of the immune system, which are responsible for an inflammatory reaction on the mucous membranes. Ultimately, this results in typical hay fever symptoms:
- Congested and itchy nose with runny nose
- Strong sneezing attacks, sometimes for several minutes
- Conjunctivitis with itchy, red and watery eyes.
- Swollen eyelids
- If necessary, itching of the mucous membranes in the mouth and throat
- Eventual disturbance of the night sleep and thereby strong tiredness during the day
- Illness, similar to a cold with body aches and fatigue
The pollen allergy symptoms occur as soon as and as long as the plants in question release their pollen into the air. In mild winters, for example, alder and hazel can start to bloom at an early stage, so that hay fever symptoms may already appear in December or January.
The severity of hay fever symptoms differs from person to person and depends on how many pollen are currently flying in the air. Some people are extremely bothered by hay fever because they can no longer find a good night’s sleep and the constantly clogged, itchy nose can be extremely exhausting with the sneezing attacks. As a result, hay fever symptoms can be a psychological burden in the long run.
In some people, the usual symptoms of hay fever are accompanied by intolerance to certain foods. The cause is a so-called cross-allergy. The body is not only allergic to the proteins of the plant pollen, but also to proteins in foods that are very similar to pollen. Therefore, eating these foods may cause allergic reactions around the mouth, esophagus and the rest of the digestive system such as tingling or itching in the mouth, abdominal pain and / or flatulence. For example, the majority of birch pollen allergy sufferers also allergic to apples, nuts, cherries or strawberries. In some cases, the cross-allergies occur only intermittently, for example during strenuous periods of life.
Overview of common cross allergens:
|of pollen||Possible cross allergens in these foods|
|Ambrosia (ragweed)||Melon, banana, cucumber|
|mugwort||Carrot, paprika, celery, mustard, pepper, anise, caraway, dill, parsley, chamomile|
|Birch, alder, hazel||Apple, hazelnut, walnut, almond, cherry, plum, apricot, kiwi, avocado, carrot, celery|
|grasses||Tomato, wheat, rye, potato, peanut, soy|
If the usual symptoms of hay fever are also accompanied by coughing and, if necessary, shortness of breath, allergic asthma may also be present. According to experts, hay fever in some 40 percent of cases leads to this form of asthma. Doctors refer to this as a so-called change of level, as the symptoms spread from the upper respiratory tract down to the lungs: The allergic reaction to the pollen leads to an overreaction of the immune system in the bronchi. These become tense (bronchoconstriction) and form a tough secretion. This especially hinders exhaling.
Allergic asthma is a serious disease. Especially because the connection between hay fever and asthma by the research is becoming increasingly obvious, one should not ignore hay fever symptoms – they can be a sort of pre-stage of asthma. Treating the symptoms of pollen allergy is therefore doubly useful: First, it can increase the quality of life. On the other hand, the disease could otherwise progress, not only to those affected Hay fever symptomsbut also still cough irritation and shortness of breath as a sign of allergic asthma plague.