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Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
Allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is a very common condition, affecting 17.6 million Americans annually. The symptoms of allergic rhinitis (sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, and itchy eyes) occur when an allergic individual is exposed to allergens. Allergens are tiny proteins that stimulate the allergic reaction. Common allergens include:
- pollens from ragweed, trees, and grasses;
- mold spores;
- animal proteins; and
The best way to treat allergic rhinitis is to avoid the allergens. Skin testing is often performed to identify the allergens which cause allergic reactions in a given individual. Scientists now believe that the symptoms of allergic rhinitis, and even the skin testing results, can vary according to the time of day.
For sufferers of allergic rhinitis, the major symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, and stuffy nose are typically worse upon arising than during the middle of the activity span of a given day.
Asthma is a common breathing problem, affecting 16.1 million Americans. Asthma is a disease of the lung airways (bronchi). Narrowing of the openings of the airways (caused by spasm, swelling of the tissue lining, and/or mucus accumulation) can lead to shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing.
Causes of asthma attacks include:
Asthma attacks (rapid worsening of symptoms) typically occur in episodes. Intervals between attacks can be days, weeks, or years. With severe asthma, attacks can occur daily. Scientists now believe that asthma attacks vary according to the time of day.
The occurrence of asthma attacks is not random during the day. Asthma symptoms are frequently worse at night (nocturnal) for a majority of asthma sufferers. A group of active asthma patients recorded the occurrence of acute asthma attacks, manifested by dyspnea (difficulty breathing) and wheezing, during a medication trial.
The incidence of asthma attacks was more than 100 times greater during nighttime sleep, especially around 4 a.m., than it was during the middle of the day.