Hay Fever - Description

Hay fever is the most common allergic condition (see allergies entry). An allergic condition is a reaction by the body to some substance that is harmless to most people. For example, most people are not bothered by dust in the air. For other people, however, inhaling dust can cause dramatic bodily changes, such as sneezing, coughing, and itchy and watery eyes.

Between 10 and 20 percent of all people in the United States have hay fever. The condition accounts for about 2 percent of all visits to doctors. The drugs used to treat hay fever make up a significant fraction of both prescription and over-the-counter drug sales each year.

There are two types of hay fever: seasonal and perennial. Seasonal hay fever occurs in the spring, summer, and early fall. During these seasons, the level of plant pollens in the air is at its highest. Perennial hay fever occurs all year. It is usually caused by substances found in the air at home or in the workplace. A person may have one or both types of hay fever. Symptoms of seasonal hay fever are worst after being outdoors. Symptoms of perennial hay fever are worst after spending time indoors. Both forms of hay fever can develop at any age. In most cases, they first appear during childhood. They may become either worse or better over time.

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