Is Hay Fever Genetic? We look at the studies around hay fever and genetics, examining whether hay fever is inherited plus discover who is most susceptible.
If your nose starts running like a faucet the minute springtime comes around, you’re not the only one. Many of us suffer from seasonal hay fever, which can leave us feeling miserable and under the weather.
The question is, what causes hay fever and why do some people seem to get hay fever attacks more than others? One theory on why some people suffer from allergies more than others is that hay fever is genetic.
What Is Hay Fever?
Before we dive into the question of whether or not hay fever is genetic, let’s take a look at what hay fever actually is. Hay fever is simply an allergic reaction to triggers in the environment.
There are two different types of hay fever: seasonal hay fever and perennial. These two types of hay fever work a little bit differently but generally cause the same effect on the body.
Seasonal Hay Fever
Seasonal hay fever is a type of hay fever that only occurs during times of the year when plants pollinate. The exact season in which a person struggles with hay fever is dependent on what plants the person is allergic to.
During the springtime, people may suffer from hay fever due to flowering trees. In the summertime, weed and grass pollens could cause allergies. In autumn, fungus spores and ragweed can be to blame.
Perennial Hay Fever
Unlike seasonal hay fever, perennial hay fever can cause allergic reactions year-round. These allergens are usually caused by indoor triggers, such as dust mites, animal dander, or feathers.
All of these airborne triggers lodge in the home in carpeting, heavy draperies, bedding, upholstery, and pillows, which we come into contact with regularly. On top of that, mold, another common hay fever trigger, can lurk in damp areas such as bathrooms and basements.
What Causes Hay Fever?
Now that we know what hay fever is, let’s talk a little bit about what causes hay fever. Hay fever occurs because your immune system believes that dangerous substances are attacking the body.
Even though these are harmless substances, your immune system attacks the triggers by sending leukotrienes and histamine into the bloodstream. The result is that an array of symptoms arise in the body, including:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Dark bags under the eyes
- Postnasal drip
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Itchy ears
- Sore throat
- Itchy mouth or throat
These symptoms happen in order to help expel the allergen from the problem area. They can also prevent more allergens from getting into the body.
If you have perennial hay fever, you may suffer from these fevers year-round. On top of that, prolonged hay fever can lead to other issues including nasal polyps, nosebleeds, and sinusitis.
What Is the Connection Between Hay Fever and Genetics?
So, now that we have a better understanding of what hay fever is, let’s talk about the connection between hay fever and genetics. The connection, surprisingly, is actually quite strong.
To better understand what causes hay fever to develop in certain people, scientists have conducted several twin studies. In these studies, scientists looked at a group of twins to determine whether or not hay fever was an inherited trait.
What they found was that the heritability of hay fever ranges between 33 and 91%. That means that people are more likely to have hay fever if they have a parent or a sibling who also suffers from these issues.
On top of that, scientists found that asthma and eczema were also inherited issues. Many people with a family history of these conditions had the genes for asthma and eczema, too.
Another fact that the study made clear is that there are several genes that correlate more to developing hay fever than others. In their genetic testing, scientists discovered a total of 41 genes that can lead to hay fever.
How Can I Find Out if My Hay Fever Is Genetic?
If you struggle with hay fever, understanding your genetics may give you a better understanding of how to treat your symptoms. With the right knowledge in hand, you can effectively combat hay fever and help yourself to feel better.
To do so, you’ll want to conduct a DNA test. DNA tests for allergies take either a cheek swab, a drop of blood, a piece of hair, or another piece of DNA and analyze your genes.
From there, the test compares your genes to thousands of others in a pool who show allergic tendencies. The scientist can then identify whether or not your genes could cause you to develop hay fever.
The benefit of taking a DNA test for hay fever is that you can determine early on what your triggers might be. This can help you eliminate them from your environment and treat your allergies with the right medications and treatment options.
Genetic testing for hay fever can also help you understand whether your kids are likely to develop hay fever. It can help you prepare to help them avoid pesky hay fever symptoms.
Is Your Hay Fever Genetic? Find Out Now
With all this information on allergies, there’s a good chance that hay fever is genetic. Perhaps mom and dad are more to blame for your seasonal allergies than you might have thought.
If you’re interested in finding out whether you have hay fever genetics or not, some simple DNA tests could be the help. Get a test kit from Sequencing and we’ll help you figure out what your DNA has to say about hay fever.