Allergic Rhinitis

What is Allergic Rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis refers to allergy of the nose. Allergies are basically caused by the interaction between the body’s immune system and irritants or agents referred to as allergens within the external world. Allergic reactions occur when the immune system sees a simple agent as a harmful intruder and reacts with chemical processes that are inappropriate hence they negatively affect the body. Symptoms of allergies are varied and can be mild or severe, some even being fatal.

Allergic rhinitis is among the most prevalent forms of atopic (skin) disorders. It is assumed that its prevalence is due to the nose’s constant exposure to airborne allergens, oftentimes being the initial point of contact between the body and these external stimuli. Airborne allergens are among the most common triggers of allergic reactions. The condition is impartial to gender with both males and females experiencing equal incidence rates.

Symptoms of allergic Rhinitis

Symptoms of this kind of allergy include runny nose and stuffiness, redness of the lower eyelid, sneezing, nasal congestion and other cold-like symptoms, snoring, heavy mouth breathing, the constant clearing of the throat, allergic creases (lines across the nose caused by frequent wiping of the nose in upward swipes made by the index finger often referred to an “allergic salutes”), headaches, nose bleeds or secretions that are tinted with blood, earaches and dark circles under the eyes.

Types of allergic Rhinitis

Allergies of the nose fall under two main categories; these are “perennial’ and “seasonal”. Perennial allergies tend to get worse during the winter months especially for children but are experienced year round. Winter months are associated with increases in allergic reactions in children because they tend to spend more time indoors hence exposures to airborne irritants around the house are more frequent and prolonged.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis results mainly from exposure to plant pollen being circulated by winds. Different irritants exist in different regions since plant life will vary based on natural habitat. The season of attack will differ as well based on the location of those affected. On average, trees produce common allergens during late winter going into early spring months, while grass is a leading cause through-out the rest of spring and the early summer period. Weeds (mainly ragweed) dominate late summer. Mold can trigger allergic rhinitis, so too can perfume and strong fragrances, pollution (unclear air), weather changes, humidity, tobacco smoke, dry air and cosmetics.

Treatment of allergic Rhinitis

Treatments include antihistamines, decongestants (in solid, liquid and nasal sprays), Immunotherapy (also called hyposensitization or more commonly know as allergy shots) and Cromolyn or steroid nasal spray. Strength, type, frequency and duration of treatment will vary based on the condition, allergen and severity of each attack although preventative measures are best. Airborne allergens can be avoided for the most part especially those that are found around the home. For those that cannot be avoided, reducing exposure should be attempted.

Reactions that are persistent or affect natural functions (like breathing or swallowing) should be brought to the attention of a doctor. Mild cases can be treated at home with drugs that can be obtained from local pharmacies without a prescription.