Everything You Should Know About Allergic Rhinitis

Everything You Should Know About Allergic Rhinitis
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According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, over 8% of individuals in the United States have allergic rhinitis of some form (AAAAI). Allergic rhinitis affects between 10% and 30% of the global population.


Everything You Should Know About Allergic Rhinitis

An allergen is a normally harmless substance that induces an allergic response. Allergic rhinitis, sometimes known as hay fever, is an allergic reaction to a particular allergen. The most prevalent allergen in seasonal allergic rhinitis is pollen. These are allergy symptoms that arise when the seasons change.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, over 8% of individuals in the United States have allergic rhinitis of some form (AAAAI). Allergic rhinitis affects between 10% and 30% of the global population.

Source - Mount Elizabeth Hospitals

Allergic rhinitis symptoms

Allergic rhinitis is characterised by the following symptoms:

  • sneezing
  • a runny nose
  • a stuffy nose
  • an itchy nose
  • coughing
  • a sore or scratchy throat
  • itchy eyes
  • watery eyes
  • dark circles under the eyes
  • frequent headaches
  • eczema-type symptoms, such as having extremely dry, itchy skin that can blister and weep
  • hives
  • excessive fatigue

When you come into touch with an allergen, you will likely experience one or more of these symptoms. Some symptoms, such as persistent headaches and exhaustion, may appear only after long-term allergen exposure. Hay fever does not cause fever.

Some individuals only get symptoms on rare occasions. This is most likely to happen if you are exposed to allergens in significant concentrations. Other folks have symptoms all year round. If your symptoms persist for more than a few weeks and do not seem to be better, consult your doctor about allergies.

What factors contribute to allergic rhinitis?

When you come into touch with an allergen, your body produces histamine, a natural molecule that protects your body from the allergen. This substance may induce allergic rhinitis and accompanying symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes.

Other frequent allergies, in addition to tree pollen, include:

  • grass pollen
  • dust mites
  • animal dander, which is old skin
  • cat saliva
  • mould

Pollen can be particularly bothersome during certain seasons of the year. In the spring, pollen from trees and flowers is more frequent. In the summer and autumn, grasses and weeds release more pollen.

What are the various types of allergic rhinitis?

Seasonal rhinitis and perennial rhinitis are the two types of allergic rhinitis. Seasonal allergies are most common in the spring and autumn and are caused by allergens found outside, such as pollen. Perennial allergies can occur all year or at any time of year in reaction to indoor pollutants such as dust mites and pet dander.

Risk factors for allergic rhinitis

Allergies can affect anybody, but if your family has a history of allergies, you are more likely to develop allergic rhinitis. Asthma or atopic eczema might also raise your chances of developing allergic rhinitis.

External variables that might cause or aggravate this illness include:

  • cigarette smoke
  • chemicals
  • cold temperatures
  • humidity
  • wind
  • air pollution
  • hairspray
  • perfumes 
  • colognes
  • wood smoke
  • fumes

How can you know if you have allergic rhinitis?

If you have minimal allergies, you will most likely simply need a physical exam. However, your doctor may order some tests in order to determine the best treatment and preventative strategy for you.

One of the most prevalent is a skin prick test. Several compounds are applied to your skin by your doctor to examine how your body responds to each one. If you are allergic to anything, a little red bump will usually form.

A blood test, also known as a radioallergosorbent test (RAST), is also often used. The RAST tests your blood for the presence of immunoglobulin E antibodies to certain allergens.

Allergic rhinitis treatments

There are numerous techniques to treat allergic rhinitis. Medication, as well as home cures and even alternative treatments, fall under this category. Before attempting any new treatment method for allergic rhinitis, consult with your doctor.

Antihistamines

Antihistamines may be used to treat allergies. They operate by preventing your body from producing histamine.

Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines that are often used include:

  • fexofenadine (Allegra)
  • diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • desloratadine (Clarinex)
  • loratadine (Claritin)
  • levocetirizine (Xyzal)
  • cetirizine (Zyrtec)

Before beginning a new drug, consult with your doctor. Check to see whether a new allergy medicine may react with other prescriptions or medical conditions.

Decongestants

Decongestants may be used to alleviate a stuffy nose and sinus pressure for a brief length of time, generally no more than three days. Using them for an extended period of time might result in a rebound effect, which means that after you stop using them, your symptoms will worsen. Popular over-the-counter decongestants include:

  • oxymetazoline (Afrin nasal spray) 
  • pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)
  • phenylephrine (Sudafed PE)
  • cetirizine with pseudoephedrine (Zyrtec-D)

Before taking a decongestant, see your doctor if you have an irregular heart rhythm, heart disease, a history of stroke, anxiety, a sleep disturbance, high blood pressure, or bladder troubles.

Nasal sprays and eye drops

For a short period, eye drops and nasal sprays may help reduce itching and other allergy-related symptoms. However, depending on the product, you may need to avoid using it for a longer duration.

Overuse of some eye and nasal medications, such as decongestants, might result in a rebound effect.

Corticosteroids may aid in the treatment of inflammation and immunological responses. These have no rebound effect. Steroid nasal sprays are often advised as a long-term, effective method of managing allergy symptoms. They are accessible without a prescription as well as over the counter.

Before beginning any allergy treatment plan, consult with your doctor to ensure you are taking the right drugs for your symptoms. Your doctor may also advise you on which products are intended for short-term usage and which are intended for long-term use.

Immunotherapy

If you have severe allergies, your doctor may consider immunotherapy or allergy injections. To reduce your symptoms, you may utilise this treatment strategy in combination with drugs. These injections gradually reduce your immune response to certain allergens. They do, however, need a long-term commitment to a treatment plan.

A buildup phase is the first stage of an allergy shot programme. During this phase, you’ll see an allergist one to three times per week for three to six months to allow your body to get used to the allergen in the injection.

During the maintenance phase, you will most likely need to see your allergist every two to four weeks for injections for three to five years. It is possible that you may not see a difference until more than a year after the maintenance phase starts. Once you reach this phase, your allergy symptoms may lessen or eliminate completely.

Some patients may have severe allergic responses to an allergen included in their vaccination. Many allergists may urge you to stay in the clinic for 30 to 45 minutes after receiving a shot to ensure that you do not have a strong or life-threatening reaction to it.

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) 

The procedure for SLIT is putting a tablet containing a combination of various allergens beneath your tongue. It works in the same way as allergy injections, but without the injection. It is currently useful in the treatment of rhinitis and asthma allergies caused by grass, tree pollen, cat dander, dust mites, and ragweed. Following an initial visit with your doctor, you may use SLIT therapies at home, such as Oralair for some grass allergies. Your first SLIT dose will be administered at your doctor’s office. The drug, like allergy shots, is administered on a regular basis for a length of time prescribed by your doctor.

Itching in the mouth or ears, as well as throat discomfort, are possible adverse effects. SLIT therapies may induce anaphylaxis in rare circumstances. Consult your doctor about SLIT to determine if it will help with your allergies. With this procedure, your doctor will need to guide your therapy.

Natural cures

The home treatments you use will be determined by your allergies. If you suffer from seasonal or pollen allergies, use an air conditioner instead of opening your windows. If at all feasible, provide an allergy-specific filter.

Indoor allergies may be controlled by using a dehumidifier or a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. If you have a dust mite allergy, wash your sheets and blankets in hot water that is over 130°F (54.4°C). Using a HEPA filter in your vacuum and vacuuming once a week may also assist. Limiting the amount of carpet in your house might also be beneficial.

Complementary and alternative medicine

Because of worries about potential side effects, increased allergy sufferers are exploring methods to treat hay fever symptoms “naturally." However, it is crucial to note that any drug, no matter how natural, might have negative effects. Aside from home cures, alternative and complementary medicine are also viable possibilities. The disadvantage of these therapies is that there is little data to establish that they are safe or effective. The correct dose may be difficult to identify or accomplish as well.

Some of the therapies listed below, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), may be useful in treating seasonal allergies, but further study is required. Before doing any of the following, consult with your doctor.

  • acupuncture
  • nasal saline irrigation
  • butterbur supplements
  • honey (choose raw, organic varieties)
  • probiotics

Despite the fact that many alternative remedies are produced from plants and other natural substances, they may mix with drugs and cause problems. Use them with care and consult your doctor beforehand.

Allergic rhinitis complications

Unfortunately, allergic rhinitis cannot be avoided. The importance of treatment and management in obtaining a high quality of life with allergies cannot be overstated. Hay fever may cause the following complications:

  • difficulty to sleep due to symptoms that keep you up at night
  • developing or worsening asthma symptoms
  • recurring ear infections
  • sinusitis, often known as recurrent sinus infections
  • absences from school or work due to decreased productivity
  • persistent headaches

Antihistamine side effects might potentially cause complications. Drowsiness is the most prevalent symptom. Headache, anxiety, and sleeplessness are some of the other negative effects. Antihistamines may have gastrointestinal, urinary, and circulatory side effects in rare circumstances.

Allergic rhinitis in children

Children may have allergic rhinitis, and it usually starts before the age of ten. If your kid experiences cold-like symptoms at the same time every year, they most likely have seasonal allergic rhinitis.

Children’s symptoms are comparable to those of adults. Allergy conjunctivitis is characterised by watery, bloodshot eyes in children. If your kid exhibits wheezing or shortness of breath in addition to other symptoms, he or she may have asthma.

Consult your doctor if you suspect your kid has allergies. It is critical to have the proper diagnosis and treatment.

If your kid has severe seasonal allergies, restrict their exposure to allergens by keeping them inside while pollen counts are high. During allergy season, washing their clothing and linens on a regular basis, as well as vacuuming on a regular basis, may be beneficial. There are several therapies available to address your child’s allergies. However, even in tiny amounts, certain drugs may produce unwanted effects. Always consult your doctor before administering any over-the-counter allergy medicine to your kid.

Summary

The outcome of your therapy is determined by your condition. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is typically not severe, and it is well-managed with medicines. Severe types of this illness, on the other hand, will almost certainly need long-term treatment.

Allergy prevention

The easiest method to avoid allergy symptoms is to control your allergies before your body reacts negatively to substances. Consider the following preventative steps for the allergens to which you are sensitive:

Pollen

The AAAAI advises that drugs be started prior to seasonal allergy episodes. For example, if you’re allergic to tree pollen in the spring, you should start taking antihistamines before an allergic response occurs. Stay indoors during high pollen hours and take a shower right after being outdoors. During allergy season, you should also keep your windows closed and avoid drying clothes on the line.

Dust mites

To limit dust mite exposure, you may take steps to ensure that your house is not a breeding ground for dust mites. Rather than sweeping, wet mop hard floors. If you have carpet, use a HEPA-filtered vacuum. You should also clean hard surfaces often and wash your bedding in hot water once a week. To reduce dust mite exposure while sleeping, use allergen-blocking pillows and cases.

Pet dander

Ideally, you should restrict your exposure to any animals to which you are allergic. If this isn’t feasible, be sure to clean all surfaces on a regular basis. Wash your hands promptly after petting a pet, and keep your four-legged buddies off your bed. You should also wash your clothing after visiting pet-friendly households.

Sources

https://www.healthline.com/health/allergic-rhinitis

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