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What is Allergic Rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis also known as hay fever, is an allergic reaction to small particles in the air known as allergens. The allergens can enter your body through your nose or mouth while you are breathing, and your body reacts by releasing a natural chemical known as histamine. Various indoor and outdoor allergens cause allergic rhinitis. Common allergens pollen and dust mites can trigger hay allergic rhinitis. Small flecks of skin that are shed by cats, dogs, and other animals having fur or feathers can also be allergens. Along with making you miserable, it can affect how well you perform at your job or school and can affect your daily life.

What are the Types of Allergic Rhinitis?

The types of allergic rhinitis include:

– Seasonal

Symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis might develop during spring, summer, and early fall and are usually caused by allergic sensitivity or through pollens from trees, grass, and weeds or airborne mould spores.

– Perennial

People who have perennial allergic rhinitis usually experience symptoms around the whole year. Dust mites, pet hair or dander, cockroaches, or mould usually cause it.  Perennial nasal symptoms are rarely caused by any underlying or hidden food allergies.

What are the Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis?

The symptoms of allergic rhinitis include:

– Runny nose and nasal stuffiness

– Watery, itchy, red eyes

– Sneezing

– Cough

– Itchy nose, or throat

– Headaches

– Sinus pain

– Dark circles under the eyes

– Increased mucus in the throat and nose

– Difficulty sleeping

– Extreme tiredness (fatigue), mostly because of poor sleep

What are the Causes of Allergic Rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis occurs when your body reacts to allergens. When your body comes into contact with an allergen, it produces histamine, a natural chemical that protects your body from the allergen. This chemical usually causes allergic rhinitis and its symptoms, such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing.

The common common allergens include:

– Tree pollen

– Grass pollen

– Dust mites

– Animal dander, means old and shed skin

– Cat saliva

– Mould

During some specific times of the year, pollen can be particularly problematic. Tree and flower pollens are quite common in the spring while grasses and weeds produce more pollen in the summer and fall.

What are the Risk Factors of Allergic Rhinitis?

Things that can increase your risk of developing allergic rhinitis:

– Having any allergies or asthma

– Having a medical condition known as atopic dermatitis or eczema

– Having a close blood relative, like a parent or sibling, with asthma or allergies

– Living or working in an environment that makes you continuously exposed to allergens

– Getting exposed to smoke and strong odours that irritate the lining of the nose

Some external factors can trigger or worsen allergic rhinitis, such as:

– Cigarette smoke

– Chemicals

– Cold temperatures

– Humidity

– Air pollution

– Hairspray

– Perfumes and colognes

– Wood smoke

What are the Complications of Allergic Rhinitis?

The complications of allergic rhinitis include:

-Decreased quality of life

Allergic rhinitis can interfere with your daily activities and also make you less productive. For many people, the symptoms result in missing work or school.

– Poor sleep

The symptoms of allergic rhinitis can cause sleep-related problems like difficulty sleeping or keeping you awake. This can cause fatigue and a feeling of being unwell.

– Worsening asthma

Allergic rhinitis can worsen symptoms of asthma, like wheezing and coughing.

– Sinusitis

Prolonged sinus congestion because of allergic rhinitis may increase your risk of getting sinusitis.

– Ear infection. In children, allergic rhinitis usually causes middle ear infection (otitis media).

How Allergic Rhinitis is Diagnosed?

For diagnosing allergic rhinitis, your doctor usually carries out a physical exam along with discussing your health, symptoms, and possible triggers. Your doctor might do a few tests including:

– Skin prick test

Small amounts of components that cause allergies are pricked into patches of skin on your upper back or arm. Then you will be kept under supervision to check for an allergic reaction. If you’re allergic, a raised bump (hive) will be developed in the area of that allergen. This test usually takes nearly 15 to 20 minutes. Allergy specialists are the best options to do allergy skin tests.

– Allergy blood test

In this test, your blood sample will be taken and sent to a lab to measure the response of your immune system to a specific allergen. It measures the amount of allergy-causing antibodies in your bloodstream, called immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies.

What are the Treatment Options Available for Allergic Rhinitis?

Various allergy medications are helpful to control and manage symptoms so that you can live comfortably even with allergic rhinitis. These treatments come in many forms, such as pills, liquids, eye drops, nasal sprays, and injections. You shall always discuss this with your doctor before taking any medication, particularly if you’re pregnant or have other health complications. Medicines your doctor might suggest:

– Antihistamines

Antihistamine medications are available both with a prescription or over the counter. They function by blocking the histamine your body releases during an allergic response. Antihistamines come in the form of pills, liquids, eye drops, nasal sprays, and inhalers. They include:





Antihistamines can lead to drowsiness and you should avoid alcohol when taking antihistamines, particularly if you’re driving.

– Decongestants

These medications help in relieving congestion in the nose and sinuses. Decongestants are taken by mouth (in pill or liquid form) or through a nasal spray. They include:

Afrin nasal spray.

Phenylephrine nasal spray.


Decongestants might cause high blood pressure along with headaches, irritability, and difficulty sleeping. Also, nasal decongestants might be addictive if used longer than a week, so talk with your doctor before using them.

– Corticosteroid nasal sprays

These sprays and inhalers decrease inflammation and give you relief from the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. The most common nasal sprays are Flonase, Rhinocort, and Nasacort. Some of their side effects are nasal irritation, headaches, cough, and nosebleeds.

– Leukotriene inhibitors

The body produces leukotriene, histamines, and other chemicals during an allergic reaction, that cause inflammation and symptoms of allergic rhinitis. These pills block leukotriene and they are available only with a prescription.

– Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy functions by aiding your body to learn to tolerate allergens. Your doctor will provide you with a range of injections (allergy shots) with a tiny amount of the allergen. Every time you get a shot, your doctor will increase the amount of the allergen and in some period, your immune system will develop immunity to the allergen and stop reacting to it.

Your doctor may also prescribe immunotherapy in the form of a pill that you have to place underneath your tongue.

Living with Allergic Rhinitis

The symptoms of allergic rhinitis can affect your quality of life and stop you from doing things you like, but effective treatments are available to manage its symptoms so that you can live your life normally even with allergic rhinitis. Most people manage symptoms with lifestyle changes. medications and other treatments available. Discuss with your doctor about steps you shall take to relieve symptoms.

Whom to Consult?

See your doctor if you experience symptoms of allergic rhinitis or allergy medications are not able to provide you relief or cause uncomfortable side effects or you have another condition that can worsen hay fever symptoms, like asthma, nasal polyps, asthma or regular sinus infections. Many people, mostly children, get used to the symptoms, so they may not need treatment until the symptoms become severe. Getting the right treatment helps to get relief.

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