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     Coughing, sneezing, with runny eyes, nose and an itchy throat? Chances are you have an upper respiratory allergy or allergic rhinitis-especially if it is spring or autumn, the time when most respiratory allergies flare up. The term "allergic rhinitis" refers to irritations of the nose that are caused by allergens. Allergic rhinitis is often used interchangeably with the term "hay fever," which refers to allergies that are caused by pollen. Hay fever sufferers, of which there are multitudes, generally suffer the most during spring, summer, and autumn when pollen production is at peak levels. During the fall, the mold spores produced by wet fallen leaves can also be irritating to hay fever sufferers.

      The symptoms of allergic rhinitis and hay fever are the same. They include sneezing, watery nasal discharge, itchy soft palate, postnasal drip, occasional coughing, laryngitis, and teary eyes. Also, swollen nasal passages that can lead to congestion that blocks the sinuses and keeps the mucus from draining, leading to sinus headache.

     Year-round allergies are not necessarily the results of coming into contact with pollen. Air conditioners can

circulate mold spores through the air. Forced heating systems also circulate mold and house dust. Allergic rhinitis sufferers may also be allergic to the fur and feathers of animals and the feathers in pillows and upholstery.

What Causes Allergies?

      According to conventional medicine, there is no known cause of allergies, and focus on hereditary and psychological factors. But from a natural point of view, there are definite causes for allergies. Of course, they vary from person to person and from circumstance to circumstance.

      It certainly is true that familial or hereditary factors have a part in the development of respiratory allergies. Like your eye color and height, the tendency to become allergic is an inherited characteristic. Yet, although you may be born with genetic predisposition to become allergic, you will not automatically become allergic to specific allergens. Other factors must also be present for allergic sensitivity to be developed. The degree and length of exposure to the allergen or allergens and other lifestyle habits such as diet,

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