What is Allergic Rhinitis and who is affected?
Seasonal allergies (sometimes called “hay fever”), or allergic rhinitis, are a very common complaint in healthcare and one we see in our clinic very often, especially in the spring and fall. Rhinitis is simply the inflammation of the nasal passages, while Allergic Rhinitis is inflammation of the nasal passages triggered by an allergy. It can affect people of all ages, but the risk of developing allergic rhinitis seems to be higher in patients with asthma or eczema, or with those patients who have a family history of asthma or seasonal allergies1.
Although allergic rhinitis can begin at any age, most people will report the onset of their first symptoms in childhood and early adulthood. This tends to be a lifelong condition that waxes and wanes over time. Fortunately, symptoms can be controlled through environmental factors and medications.
What are some symptoms of allergic rhinitis?
The severity and frequency of seasonal allergies can vary from person to person, range from mild to severe, and occur seasonally or year round (perennial). Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include:
- Nasal congestion
- Watery nasal discharge
- Post-nasal drip
- Loss of taste
- Facial pain and pressure
- Itchy / watery eyes
- Swelling and redness of eyes
- Sore throat or hoarseness in voice
- Congestion or popping in ears
- Itching of throat or ears.
These symptoms can really decrease a person’s quality of life by causing missed work, school absences, disrupted sleep, and impaired cognition.2
Can the effects of allergic rhinitis be minimized?
Yes! One of the most important factors in preventing allergic rhinitis is identifying allergens or other triggers that may provoke your symptoms. Here are some ways to minimize or eliminate common indoor allergens:
Mold: Try to decrease excess moisture in your home using dehumidifiers and frequently cleaning damp areas (bathrooms) with a bleach-and-water solution.
Pet Dander: Pets should be avoided altogether, but if you already have a furry friend, dander may be reduced by using high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters and allergen-resistant bedding. Washing pets twice a week can help to decrease allergen levels.
Dust Mites: These may be reduced by avoiding carpet, frequently washing sheets and bedding, frequently washing drapes, and wiping surfaces with a damp cloth or mop daily.
Outdoor allergens: Exposure to outdoor allergens such as pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds is more difficult to control, but you can decrease their effects by showering before bed, keeping windows shut, and using an air conditioner2. Avoid being outside when pollen counts are high and change your clothes after being exposed to pollen.
How is allergic rhinitis diagnosed?
A medical provider can diagnose allergic rhinitis by reviewing your medical history and performing a medical examination. Allergy testing may be performed when your diagnosis is uncertain or as needed to target a specific allergy. The goal of treatment is to minimize or eliminate symptoms in order to decrease suffering and restore quality of life. Allergic rhinitis can lead to other complications including sinus infections, ear infections, allergic conjunctivitis, anxiety, and depression. Oftentimes, allergies can also affect the quality and quantity of sleep making it difficult to feel well rested and leads to daytime sleepiness.
If you suffer from symptoms of allergic rhinitis, the providers at the Corner Clinic can quickly and easily provide you with a diagnosis. We will offer you an individualized treatment plan including medications to help you feel better or referral to the appropriate specialist if necessary. Let’s get you feeling better!