About Hay Fever: Making the Diagnosis

An important way to recognize hay fever is to remember exactly when the symptoms appear and disappear. Knowing these dates will give a doctor or allergist vital clues as to what's provoking the symptoms, and makes diagnosis easier.

Sometimes, a doctor or allergist will recommend skin testing for allergies. With skin testing, small, standardized doses of all the most common allergens are gently scraped on the skin. If a small rash appears, this indicates an allergy to that substance. Most of these tests are almost painless.

The details of where someone lives and works and when they suffer most should help the allergist make a very short list of possible causes. If none of the skin tests produce results, this may be an indication of some other kind of rhinitis (nasal irritation). These diseases can be confused with hay fever:

  • Vasomotor rhinitis - The nasal mucous membrane swells up with increased bloodflow, causing runny nose and congestion. There's no known cause. It's not an allergic disease.
  • Chronic rhinitis - This may be a prolongation of a common cold or a symptom of another disease like syphilis or tuberculosis.
  • Rhinitis medicamentosa - This is caused by overuse of spray decongestants, which actually increase congestion if used for more than 3 consecutive days.

Learn more about Antihistaminic