Hayfever is not caused by hay, nor does it produce a fever. It is a reaction (e.g., stuffy, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, or a blocked feeling in your ears) caused by an allergy to airborne particles that are inhaled.
When a plant or animal substance, which is foreign to humans, invades the body through the membranes of the eyes, nose, or throat, it causes an immune reaction. Your body is fighting the invader. Under ordinary circumstances this is a helpful process-natural protection. However, some individuals exhibit an exaggerated allergic response to certain substances. Those substances are called "allergens", and these people are allergic. Being allergic is a trait that tends to run in families
Particles of plant animal proteins that are small enough and lightweight enough to be carried through the air can be deposited onto membrances of the eyes, nose and throat. Common sources are pollens, mold spores, animal danders, and house dust. Allergic rhinitis is the stuffy, runny nose and itchy eyes that result from inflamed nasal passage.
More than 14 million Amercians suffer from allergic rhinitis. For some it is a mere nuisance. But, for others it can be debilitating.
Early springtime hayfever is most often caused by tree pollens. Late springtime pollens come from the grasses and weeds. Colorful or fragrant flowers such as roses rarely cause allergies because their pollens are to heavy to be airborne. They rely on insects to carry their pollen from one plant to another.
The most significant hayfever producing pollen in the United States comes from ragweed. It begins in late August and continues until October or the first frost in most parts of the U.S.
Molds are fungi; which spoil bread, rot fruit, and mildew clothing. They also grow on dead leaves, grass, hay, straw, and in the soil. Because they are not killed by frost, the mold allergy season is long, and mold spores may be outside all year, except when snow covers the ground.
Indoors, molds grow on houseplants and in their soil. They also grow in damp places such as basements, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. Molds can also be found in cheese and fermented alcoholic beverages.
Other allergens that are present through all seasons include animal danders (cats, dogs, horses, and other pets, wool and feathers), cosmetics, foods, and house dust. House dust is a complex mixture of disintegrating cellulose (furniture stuffing), molds, danders (pets and other animals), and insects and small mites. If your allergies become worse in the winter, when hot air furnaces are turned on, they are probably due to house dust.
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