Caution: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
An allergy is a super-sensitivity to allergy triggers called allergens. During a process called sensitization, your immune system mistakenly identifies a harmless airborne substance as something harmful. Your immune system then starts producing antibodies to this harmless substance. The next time you come in contact with the substance, these antibodies recognize it and signal your immune system to release chemicals, such as histamine, into your bloodstream. These immune system chemicals cause a reaction that leads to the irritating signs and symptoms of a nasal allergy.
Cold or Allergy?
The similarities between symptoms of the nasal allergies (also called allergic rhinitis, indoor or outdoor allergies, seasonal allergies, pet allergies or hay fever) and cold/flu can cause confusion. Worse, it can cause you to make the wrong diagnosis and treat with the wrong medications. And, if allergies are left untreated, it can cause more serious conditions like sinusitis or ear infections.
Nasal allergies occur during exposure to an allergen, and your nasal cavity becomes irritated and inflamed. Unlike the flu/cold, nasal allergies are not caused by a virus, nor are they contagious. Hay fever doesn’t mean you are allergic to hay. Despite its name, hay fever is almost never triggered by hay and does not cause hay fever. Although it may be caused by the mould spores and dusts stirred-up by the process of haying. There is no cure for allergies, but there are treatments to mitigate allergy symptoms.
Your nasal allergy symptoms may start or worsen at a particular time of year, triggered by tree pollen, grasses or weeds, which all bloom at different times. If you're sensitive to indoor allergens, such as dust mites, cockroaches, mold or pet dander, you may have year-round symptoms. Many people have allergy symptoms all year long, but their symptoms may get worse during certain times of the year.
Although nasal allergies can begin at any age, you're most likely to develop it during childhood or early adulthood. It's common for the severity of allergic reactions to change over the years. For most people, nasal allergy symptoms tend to diminish slowly, often over decades.