This article presented in the community interest by Hibiscus Private Hospital in Port Shepstone.  Based on material supplied by Dr Ayoob Bux,
Founding Director Hibiscus Private Hospital and Chairman of the Independent Practitioners Association (IPA).

Commonly mistaken for influenza or the common flu, hay fever (Allergic Rhinitis) is the irritation and inflammation of certain internal areas of the nose. Allergic rhinitis is caused by substances to which people are allergic, such as pollens of specific seasonal plants, airborne chemicals and dust particles.  This uncomfortable condition is characterised by sneezing, runny nose and itching eyes.

The symptoms of influenza, however, are fever, cough, headache, malaise, and inflamed respiratory mucous membranes. It usually occurs as an epidemic in the winter. Severe cases may result in bronchitis, pneumonia, and sometimes even death.

Your doctor can help you deal with allergic rhinitis by advising you about allergen avoidance and providing you with medication if necessary. In making the diagnosis, the history of your symptoms will be important to your doctor. Do the symptoms vary according to time of day or the season?  Are you affected by exposure to pets, other allergens or changes in your diet?

There are two categories of allergic rhinitis. The first is seasonal occurring particularly during pollen seasons. It is particularly prevalent from late May to the end of June. This seasonal allergic rhinitis does not usually develop until after 6 years of age. The second type is perennial, occurring throughout the year. This type of allergic rhinitis is commonly seen in younger children

The goal of treatment is to prevent allergic rhinitis by reducing your exposure to allergens. If this is not enough, then an antihistamine or a steroid nasal spray may be necessary. If untreated, allergic rhinitis could result in a persistent post nasal drip, painful throat especially in the morning and sometimes sinus infection.

Here are five pollen-wise practical tips:

  1. Try to remain indoors in the morning and evening when pollen levels are highest.
  2. Avoid unnecessary exposure to other environmental irritants such as insect sprays, tobacco smoke, air pollution and paint.
  3. Try to avoid fields and large areas of grasslands.
  4. Regular hand and face washing removes pollen from areas where it is likely to enter the nose. Regular hair washing before going to bed removes pollen so it doesn’t get stuck onto the pillow.
  5. A small amount of petroleum jelly around the eyes and nostrils will stop some pollen from entering the areas that cause a reaction.


Allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is characterised by sneezing, runny nose and itching eyes. The goal of treatment is to prevent allergic rhinitis by reducing your exposure to allergens.

Dr Ayoob Moosa Bux (Medical Practitioner)