|Allergic rhinitis is caused by a hypersensitivity response to foreign proteins or allergens such as:
- grass pollens
- weed pollens
- tree pollens
- animal danders
- house dust mites
- mould spores
Common symptoms include:
§ runny nose
§ itchiness of nose, throat, ears
§ sneezing, stuffy nose
§ redness, watering, and itching of the eyes
These symptoms are the result of the release of chemicals caused by the allergic reaction.
Seasonal allergic rhinitis occurs during a pollen season. Sufferers may react to trees from mid-March to mid-June; to grasses from mid-May to the end of July; and to ragweed from mid-August to the first frost.
Perennial allergic rhinitis occurs year round with symptoms as a result of exposure to house dust mites, moulds, or animal danders.
Nasal congestion may also result from structural abnormalities such as a deviated septum, an injury, a congenital abnormality, adenoid enlargement, or nasal polyps.
It is important to have a review of symptoms as well as investigation of other nasal conditions, which can mimic allergic rhinitis, and a physical examination.
If you have been diagnosed with Allergic Rhinitis it is helpful to follow some preventative measures:
- keep your windows in the house and the car closed during pollen season.
- Air conditioning will help control the outdoor air coming in and perhaps relieve your symptoms.
- minimize early morning activities when pollen is commonly released (between 5:00 and 10:00 A.M.)
- stay indoors when the pollen count is high, and on windy days when dust and pollen are distributed.
- Exercise indoors when pollen counts are high.
- days that are rainy, cloudy, and without wind will help too alleviate symptoms as pollen is not being circulated: hot, dry, and windy weather will cause allergic symptoms to return.
- do not allow your dog or cat to run at large, as it can become a carrier of pollen.
- avoid contact with animals, and never allow pets in the bedroom.
- regular washing of cats may lessen their allergic potential.
- do not cut the grass yourself or spend time around freshly cut grass and do not rake leaves – these activities will stir up pollens and mould.
- remove indoor plants which will also cause mould to grow.
- remove all carpets from the sleeping area.
- Cover mattresses and pillows with mite-proof encasings to reduce house dust mites.
Medications which may help this condition include: antihistamines, oral decongestants, decongestant nasal sprays, corticosteroids (short term use only) and cromolyn. Before using medication, check with your doctor to ensure correct diagnosis.
Immunotherapy is often very effective for those patients who do not respond well to treatment with medications. Immunotherapy (allergy shots) will not cure allergies, but can be effective in controlling allergic symptoms.