Hay fever affects between 10 and 30 percent of the world population, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and is a common cause of postnasal allergies.
About eight percent of US citizens over the age of 18 have sneezing or other nasal symptoms related to hay fever. These symptoms include wheezing, congestion, runny nose and itching. This condition is common in adolescents and adults who have allergies to agents such as pollen, dust and animal dander.
Allergens such as mold spores, canine dander, dust mites and pollen are responsible for causing allergies and subsequent postnasal drip.
The allergic response
When a person with an allergy finds the substance to which they are allergic (the allergen), their immune system overreacts. Histamine is released by overstimulated immune cells, called mast cells. Histamine causes blood vessels to lose fluid, which causes allergic symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, swelling and inflammation.
Postnasal drip occurs frequently in response to allergies. Excess mucus extends from the front of the nose to the back of the throat, causing dribbling. Your body responds by coughing and, eventually, your throat will become irritated or raw.
Coping with Allergies
Allergens, including mold spores, animal dander, mites and pollen, are responsible for causing allergies and subsequent postnasal drip. If you have an allergy, it is important to limit your exposure to allergens to prevent symptoms.
Postnasal allergy symptoms can be alleviated by the use of decongestants and antihistamines, as well as glucocorticoid nasal sprays or other steroid-based formulations.
If other treatments do not work for you, discuss immunotherapy or allergy shots with your doctor. This is a form of desensitization therapy; It works by exposing your immune system to very small doses of the problematic allergen by weekly or biweekly injections.
For about six months, the dose is slowly reduced so that your immune system becomes less sensitive to mites, animal dander, or pollen types that cause allergies. According to the Mayo Clinic, your release of symptoms is continued through monthly maintenance injections for the next three to five years.
Finally, your doctor may recommend a daily nasal wash or treatment with rhinocornium. This procedure consists of rinsing the allergens from your nasal cavities, using saline water prepared with pure or distilled water.
About the author
Boyan Hadjiev, MD (Doctor of Medicine, for its acronym in English), has practiced medicine for five years. He has a double degree in Internal Medicine (2003), and in Allergy and Immunology (2005).
Dr. Hadjiev graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor's degree in biology and an MD from the Cleveland Clinic-Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.