Is Allergic Rhinitis?
An allergen is a typically harmless substance that causes an
allergic reaction. Allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, is an
allergic response to specific allergens. Some typical allergens are grass,
dust, and mold. Pollen is the most common allergen.
Your body releases histamine when it encounters an allergen.
A histamine is a natural chemical that defends your body from the allergen. This
chemical causes allergic rhinitis, which can have many uncomfortable symptoms such
as a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes.
Seek treatment if you have this condition. It can interfere
with your quality of life.
Common causes of allergic rhinitis include:
- animal dander (old skin)
- cat saliva
Pollen is the biggest culprit, especially during certain
times of the year. Tree and flower pollens are more prevalent in the spring,
while grasses and weeds produce more pollen in the summer and fall months.
Factors for Allergic Rhinitis
Allergies can happen to anyone, but you’re more likely to
develop allergic rhinitis if your family has a history of allergies.
There are also external factors that can trigger this
condition or make it worse. These include:
- cigarette smoke
- cold temperatures
- air pollution
- perfumes and colognes
- wood smoke
of Allergic Rhinitis
The most common symptoms of this condition include:
- runny nose
- stuffy nose
- itchy nose
- sore or scratchy throat
- itchy and watery eyes
- dark under-eye circles
- frequent headaches
- eczema-type symptoms, such as having extremely
dry, itchy skin that often blisters
- hives, which are red, sometimes itchy, bumps on
- excessive fatigue
of Allergic Rhinitis
People with minor allergies usually only need a physical
exam. However, your doctor may recommend specific tests to help determine the
best treatment and preventive measures.
A skin prick test is one of the most commonly used tests.
During this test, your doctor places a variety of substances onto your skin to
see how your body reacts to each one. Usually, a small red bump appears if
you’re allergic to a substance.
Another common allergy test is a blood test, sometimes
referred to as a radioallergosorbent test (RAST). The RAST measures the amount
of immunoglobin E (IgE) antibodies to particular allergens that are present in
Allergic rhinitis can be either seasonal or perennial, which
means they last all year.
There are different ways to treat allergic rhinitis.
Antihistamines effectively treat allergies. They
can also help prevent this condition because they block histamine formation in
the body. Some over-the-counter versions may be helpful, but remember to always
talk to your doctor before starting a new medication, especially if you take
other medications or have other medical conditions.
You can use decongestants over a short period of time to
help relieve stuffy nose and sinus pressure. Ask your doctor before use if you
have high blood pressure or genitourinary disease, such as an enlarged prostate.
Eye Drops and Nasal Sprays
You can temporarily use eye drops and nasal sprays to
relieve itchiness and other symptoms related to allergies. However, don’t use
either product on a long-term basis.
Your doctor may recommend immunotherapy if you have severe
allergies. This treatment is commonly known as allergy shots. You can use this
treatment plan in conjunction with medications to control your symptoms. These
shots decrease your immune response to particular allergens over time.
The best way to prevent allergy symptoms is to manage your
allergies before your body has a chance to adversely respond to substances. The
Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (AAAAI) recommends starting
medications before seasonal allergy attacks. For example, if you are sensitive
to tree pollen in the spring, you may want to start taking antihistamines
before an allergic reaction has the chance to occur.
Another effective way to prevent allergic rhinitis is to
steer clear of the allergens that cause your symptoms. For instance, stay
indoors when pollen counts are high and take showers immediately after being
outside. Also, clean your home to remove pet dander, mold, and dust.
The outcome of treatment depends on your unique condition.
Seasonal allergic rhinitis is usually not severe, and you can manage it well
with medications. However, severe forms of this condition will likely require
long-term treatment. Some people may even develop sinusitis (inflamed nasal
passages that can cause breathing difficulties and pain) or asthma along with