BISMARCK, ND (KXNET) — As we move out of the summer months and into fall, those with allergies may be greeted with the return of an unwanted friend: hay fever.

Otherwise known by the medical term ‘allergic rhinitis, hay fever often spreads among people who have constant allergy attacks. You might see it kick up around the great outdoors, after playing with your pets, or gathering dust in your home. Most people associate this with minor allergies and sneezing — but there’s a lot more to this condition than one might first think.

In fact, the term ‘Hay Fever’ itself is extremely misleading, as fevers aren’t even a symptom of the disease. Rather, the primary effects of hay fever include the following:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Watery, itchy, or red eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth, or throat
  • Post-nasal drip (mucus running down the back of the throat)
  • Allergic shiners (swollen, bruised-appearing skin under the eyes)
  • Extreme tiredness and fatigue, usually caused by lack of sleep as a result of other symptoms

Many people may compare this sickness to the world’s most widespread infection, and it’s no wonder — the symptoms are easily compared to what most of us expect from the common cold. The difference between the two mostly comes from a few symptoms and the illness’s duration. Nasal discharge as a result of colds tends to be thicker than that caused by hay fever, and low-grade fevers and body aches are also only seen in colds. Furthermore, while cold symptoms begin up to three days after exposure to the virus and will last from three to seven days, hay fever symptoms manifest immediately after exposure to allergens, and continue as long as the individual is exposed to them.

As for what exactly triggers hay fever, that really depends. There are actually two different types of hay fever — seasonal allergic rhinitis, which usually occurs only at certain times of year (spring, summer, and early fall being particularly frequent) when irritants such as mold and pollen are in the air, and perennial allergic rhinitis, which are year-round symptoms caused by interaction with a certain substance (usually pet hair, dander, or dust mites).

The symptoms and issues caused by hay fever can often lead to irritability, sleep disorders, decreased focus, and issues with memory and coordination, leading to difficult times for those who are affected by the condition.

In terms of prevention, though, there’s, unfortunately, no way to avoid catching hay fever. The best way to combat it, as simple as it sounds, is to identify what may cause the condition, avoid it, and take over-the-counter allergy medicine to counteract symptoms. Of particular note would be keeping windows closed and using air conditioning when indoors and wearing glasses or sunglasses outdoors to stave off pollen allergies and washing hands and bedspreads after contact to stop reactions from dust mites and pet hair.

If medicine does not work, or you have another condition that amplifies your symptoms, visit a doctor as soon as possible. Allergy tests are also highly recommended to find out exactly what is causing your case of hay fever.

For more information on hay fever, visit the Mayo Clinic’s page on the disease.