Allergic Rhinitis

Overview of Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is an inflammation of the nasal or oral cavity that is caused by allergens such as dust, pollen, mold, or pet dander. Pollen is the most common allergen that causes seasonal allergic rhinitis in a number of people. It is also known as hay fever. Although there are no preventive measures for allergic rhinitis. Certain lifestyle modifications can help to ease the discomfort.

Signs and Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis

Some  of the common symptoms of allergic rhinitis are as follows:

  • Sneezing 
  • A stuffy nose 
  • Itchy nose 
  • Coughing 
  • Itchy eyes 
  • Watery red eyes 
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Frequent and constant headaches
  • Skin rashes 
  • Runny nose 
  • Sore throat 
  • Eczema-like symptoms 
  • Hives 
  • Fatigue 

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Types of Allergic Rhinitis

There are two known types of allergic rhinitis.

Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis 

These allergic reactions normally occur during the seasons of autumn or spring. This is because of high levels of outdoor allergens such as pollen during these seasons.

Perennial Allergic Rhinitis 

These allergic reactions are not due to pollens and can occur at any time of the year. This mainly is due to indoor pollutants such as dust mites as well as pet dander.

Causes of Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is a condition in which the immune system reacts to allergens as they are harmful disease-causing agents. This leads to a release of a number of chemicals that cause the inner mucosal layer of the nose to become swollen. As a result, too much mucus is produced. Some of the common causes of allergic rhinitis are:

  • Pollen 
  • Dust particles 
  • House dust mites 
  • Skin flakes 
  • The saliva of certain animals 
  • Droplets of urine from certain animals 
  • Mold 
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Risk Factors of Allergic Rhinitis

The risk factors of allergic rhinitis are various such as:

  1. Asthma 
  2. Eczema 
  3. Chemicals 
  4. Wind 
  5. Tobacco smoke 
  6. Hairspray 
  7. Wood smoke 
  8. Certain types of fumes 
  9. Colognes 
  10. Perfumes 

Allergic Rhinitis Complications

  1. Some of the common complications due to allergic rhinitis are as follows:
  2. Frequent ear infections 
  3. Sinusitis 
  4. Frequent sinus infections 
  5. Migraine
  6. Sleep apnea 
  7. Respiratory disorders 
  8. Worsening asthma symptoms 

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Prevention

There is no concrete way to prevent allergic rhinitis. But avoiding the triggers can definitely help. Some possible preventive measures are as follows:

  1. Do not touch your face and your nose
  2. When the pollen count is high, try to keep the house and car windows close. 
  3. Make sure to keep your pets out of your couches, mattresses, and beds. Keep your bedroom door closed. 
  4. Try to use filters in your vacuum cleaner and air conditioner. This will reduce the number of allergens in the air. 
  5. Pay special attention to personal hygiene. Wash your hands often especially after playing with pets. 
  6. Remember to wear a hat or sunglasses and other types of accessories to protect the exposure of your eyes and nose to pollens. 
  7. Try to change your clothes as soon you come indoors after a stroll or any outdoor activity. 
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Diagnosis

The diagnostic of allergic rhinitis starts with a physical examination as well as questions about the triggers and whether they affect you at a particular place or time. Your doctor may suggest the following tests for further clarification. 

Allergy Testing 

If the cause of the allergic reaction in your body is unknown then one of the following allergy tests can be recommended:

  1. A Skin Prick Test 

The allergen is placed on the patient’s arm. With the help of a needle, the skin is pricked and then the needle is introduced into the immune system. If a person is allergic then a red spot will appear. 

  1. Blood Test 

This is mostly done to check the level of immunoglobulin in your body. The levels of immunoglobulin are high if the immune system is reacting to a suspected allergen.

Other Tests

To check out the complications due to allergic rhinitis some of the following tests may also be suggested:

  1. Nasal Endoscopy 

A camera with a light source is inserted up the nose so that the doctor can have real-time footage. 

  1. Nasal Inspiratory Flow Test 

A small device is placed over the mouth and nose to measure the rate of airflow when a person inhales. 

  1. CT Scan

 

CT Scan may also be conducted to assess the situation of allergic reaction.

 

Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis | When to Consult a Doctor

Your primary healthcare provider can suggest one of the following treatment methodologies: 

  1. Antihistamines 

Our body tends to produce histamine during an allergic reaction. The intake of these over-the-counter medicines blocks the production of histamine. These medicines come in the form of liquids, eye drops, pills, nasal sprays, and inhalers. Some of the best examples are:

  • Fexofenadine
  • Cetirizine 
  • Loratadine
  • Levocetirizine

Make sure to not drink alcohol while you are taking these antihistamines. These medicines can lead to drowsiness. 

  1. Corticosteroid Nasal Sprays 

These nasal sprays are known to reduce inflammation and thus can relieve the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. The common corticosteroid nasal sprays are:

  1. Flonase
  2. Rhinocort
  3. Nasacort 

Common Side Effects of Corticosteroid Nasal Sprays are:

  1. Migraines 
  2. Nasal irritation 
  3. Cough 
  4. Nose bleeds
  5. Immunotherapy 

This treatment makes sure to boost the immune capacity of the patient. A series of injections are given which also contain small amounts of allergen. Every time the patient gets a shot, the doctor slightly increases the amount of the allergen. With the passage of time immune system successfully develops immunity against the allergen and stops causing serious reactions. 

  1. Decongestants

These drugs help to reduce congestion in the nose or the sinuses. The method of intake is either orally or in the form of sprays. Examples of decongestants are:

  1. Afrin nasal spray 
  2. Pseudoephedrine 
  3. Phenylephrine nasal sprays

Side Effects of Allergic Rhinitis

The side effects of decongestants are as follows:

  • Migraines 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Sleep apnea 
  • Irritability 
  • Discomfort 
  • Highly addictive 
  1. Leukotriene Inhibitors

The body tends to release histamine as well as leukotriene during the onset of an allergic reaction. These pills are available only on prescription. 

Side effects of Leukotriene Inhibitors

People may experience the following side effects if they are taking these inhibitors:

  • Vivid dreams
  • Mood swings 
  • Involuntary muscle movements 
  • Skin rashes 

Doctors to treat Allergic Rhinitis

Last updated on Monday 28/11/2022

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