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Allergic rhinitis or pollenosis or hay fever is an allergic inflammation of the nasal airways. It is caused by an allergic response to airborne substances, such as pollen, animal dander, dust, etc. People with allergic rhinitis are at a higher risk of developing asthma, other allergies, sinusitis, sleep disorders, nasal polyps, and ear infections. This condition is not a life-threatening disorder. Allergic rhinitis is a common condition which affects around 20% of the population. Allergic rhinitis is more common in boys than in girls in childhood, while in adulthood, the prevalence is roughly equal among men and women.
Causes of Allergic Rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis is generally caused from pollens. The pollen particles are spread by the wind and are inhaled. Pollen is a strong stimulator of allergy. They lodge in the nasal lining tissues and other parts of the respiratory tract where it stimulates the allergic response. A person can be allergic because of his or her genetic makeup. The other causative factors of allergic rhinitis include pet dander, dust and household mites, cockroaches and molds growing on wall paper, house plants, carpeting, and upholstery.
Types of Allergic Rhinitis
There are two categories of allergic rhinitis. They are:
- Seasonal – which occurs especially during the pollen seasons
- Perennial - occurs throughout the year.
Symptoms and signs of Allergic Rhinitis
The common symptoms and signs of allergic rhinitis are as following:
- Stuffy and runny nose
- Post-nasal drip
- Red, itchy, and watery eyes
- Dry cough
- Swollen eyelids
- Sore throat
- Headaches, facial pain or pressure
- Partial loss of hearing, smell, and taste
- Itchy mouth, throat, ears, and face
- Dark circles under the eyes
Complications of Allergic Rhinitis
Some of the complications of allergic rhinitis are -
- Nasal Polyps
- Upper respiratory infections
- sinus infections
Diagnosis of Allergic Rhinitis
The physician conducts physical examination and asks questions regarding the symptoms. Allergic rhinitis can be diagnosed by conducting the following tests:
- Skin test - One of the easiest and most sensitive ways to diagnose allergic rhinitis.
- RAST blood test - This test is used to detect levels of immunoglobulin in response to a specific allergen.
- Complete blood count (CBC) specifically the eosinophil white blood cell count, may help reveal allergies.
- Nasal smear - Sample of the nasal secretions is taken and examined to find out the cause of the rhinitis or to rule out other allergic conditions.
- Nasal endoscopy - Helps to view more deeply inside the nose.
Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis
The below mentioned steps should be followed to treat allergic rhinitis -
- Avoid or reduce exposure to triggers.
- Medications such as antihistamines or corticosteroids are commonly prescribed.
- Nasal wash can be helpful to extract mucus from the nose.
- Allergy Shots
Prevention of Allergic Rhinitis
To prevent allergic rhinitis, follow the below mentioned steps –
- Avoid allergens or irritants
- Wash bed linens in hot water and perform regular dusting so that dust and dust mites can be controlled.
- Restrict the entry of pets in certain areas in your house so that animal dander and other pet allergens can be controlled.
- Clean bath tubs and showers regularly so that indoor molds can be controlled.
- The windows should be kept closed, so that there will not be so many pollens and molds in the house.
- Wear a mask when cleaning the house.
- Avoid indoor plants.
- To relieve nasal congestion, sleep with the head of bed elevated.
- Stop smoking
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