Hay Fever Complications
Learn about potential hay fever complications, including sleep problems, missing work, sinusitis, asthma, and ear infection.

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Complications of Hay Fever

Hay fever is not generally a serious condition. Occasionally its symptoms can linger and sometimes lead to the development of more serious complications.

Quality of Life

Although hay fever is not generally a serious condition, it can be bothersome and interfere with your life in inconvenient ways. Severe symptoms can cause you to miss school or work. You may not enjoy activities as much as you once did because you don’t feel well. High pollen counts may force you to remain indoors at certain times of year.

Sleep Disturbance

Symptoms like nasal congestion, coughing, and headaches can disrupt your sleep. Over time, lack of sleep can affect your productivity, mood, and overall well being.


Prolonged congestion makes you more susceptible to sinusitis. Sinuses are the cavities behind the cheekbones in the areas around the eyes and nose. Sinusitis is a long-lasting and  often painful inflammation or infection of the sinuses. Its symptoms include:

  • congestion
  • persistent cough
  • green or gray nasal discharge
  • postnasal drip
  • achiness in the face (particularly pain when pressing on cheekbones or forehead)
  • headache
  • fever

Ear Infection (Otitis Media)

Middle ear infections (otitis media) are very common among children. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 75 percent of children have had at least one before age 3. Hay fever is known to encourage development of or worsen the symptoms of middle ear infections in young children.


Hay fever can also aggravate or trigger asthma symptoms. These two conditions often occur together.

Long-Term Outlook

Most symptoms are treatable with medication. In severe cases, allergy shots may be needed. Some people are less affected by allergies over time. However, most allergy sufferers battle symptoms throughout their lives. 

Written by: The Healthline Editorial Staff
Edited by:
Medically Reviewed by: Kenneth R. Hirsch, MD
Published: Oct 21, 2014
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.
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