With a change of season most people experience an increased irritation caused by allergies and hay fever, medically known as allergic rhinitis. During this period, there are common symptoms that these people typically suffer from, but they mistakenly tend to misinterpret these allergy symptoms as flu and resultantly take the wrong medication.

This is according to Dr Todd Mahr, Director for Paediatric Allergy/Immunology at Gundersen Health System in Wisconsin, who states that most people who suffer from allergic rhinitis experience signs and symptoms that are similar to a cold which includes sneezing, congestion, a runny nose and sinus pressures. “The onset of allergic rhinitis symptoms is usually triggered when grass or pollen is at a high prevalence in the air and not simply because an individual is allergic to grass or trees.”

As a result, it is important for those who regularly suffer from allergies to determine whether their symptoms are triggered by a certain season and record which months of the year they suffer the most, says Dr Mahr.

Dr Mahr says that by knowing one’s history it will assist in diagnosing the problem as family history will also have an impact on the diagnosis of the allergy. “In many cases allergies are genetic and are passed from generation to generation. In order to get a proper diagnosis, one must visit a healthcare professional who can prescribe appropriate medication. A lot of people would rather take pills as their preferred method of treatment as they think it provides the quickest and easiest relief from the symptoms.  Intranasal corticosteroids provide the healthcare professional with a longer-term solution to control allergies. Should the patient still experience the symptoms, it is advisable to consult an allergologist – a medical doctor who specialises in the treatment of allergies.”

Dr Mahr explains that the advantage of using intranasal corticosteroids is that the medication reaches the affected part of the body and directly targets the problem area. “The best way to avoid extreme suffering during allergy season is to start using the allergy medicine in the beginning of the season to monitor and control hay fever throughout that period.

“It is also important that patients who take medication for allergies do not use the medicine for longer than the period stipulated by their healthcare professional. It is advisable to consult a healthcare professional to determine whether the medicine is working properly and to have periodical exams done,” he says.

There are many similarities between asthma and allergies (allergic rhinitis), but according to Dr Mahr a lot of people consider the conditions as two separate diseases because of the different impacts they have. “When an individual already suffers from asthma, suffering from allergies will make the asthma even worse. Allergies have a great impact on those who suffer from it and can possibly impact someone’s presence at work, which will resultantly impact productivity.”