Allergic rhinitis occurs when your immune system reacts to particles (allergens) in the air that you breathe by causing an allergic reaction such as sneezing, inflammation and a runny nose.
There are two types of allergic rhinitis – seasonal and perennial. Perennial allergic rhinitis, which can occur all year round, is usually triggered by indoor allergens such as pet dander, dust mites, dust, mould and occasionally food allergy. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is seasonal and is caused by outdoor allergens such as pollen from trees and plants. It is also likely that there is a genetic factor involved. If your parents have allergies, you are also likely to have allergies. The chance is higher if your mother has allergies.
You may have symptoms only at
certain times of the year if you are
allergic to pollen.
If you are allergic to indoor allergens
or dust mites, you may have symptoms
all the time.
Symptoms can be similar to that of the
common cold but unlike a common
cold they continue over a longer
period. Symptoms include:
People with allergies usually have
symptoms for many years. Some
conditions such as asthma and ezcema
can also be associated with allergic
rhinitis. There may also be other
problems such as sinusitis and ear
infections as a result of your allergies.
These tests include:
Rhinoscopy. A rhinoscope is used to look inside the sinuses, upper passages and upper airways to look for nasal polyps or other problems that may be blocking the nasal cavity.
Imaging tests. X-rays, CT scans and MRIs can be used to look for sinus infection and chronic inflammation or thickening of the sinus lining (as a result of chronic inflammation), structural defects and cancer.
The best treatment is to avoid the source of allergy. However, if that is not possible or does not work, other treatment options are available. Treatment is individualised depending on the type and severity of symptoms and other underlying medical conditions.
Treatment options include:
provide relief by controlling symptoms
of allergy. It does so by neutralising the
effect of the histamines released into
the bloodstream during an allergic
Corticosteriods. Cortisone nasal
sprays are very effective in reducing
the inflammation which causes
swelling, sneezing, and a runny nose.
Cortisone helps the body counter the
effects caused by an allergic reaction.
either taken orally or in the form of
nasal sprays can help control allergy
symptoms but not their causes. By
shrinking the swollen membranes in
the nose, decongestants make it easier
to breathe. But this form of treatment
can only be used for short periods.
Allergy Shots. For some people with
very bad symptoms, immunotherapy
or allergy shots may be helpful.
Immunotherapy helps your body
handle the allergens by exposing it
to increasingly higher doses of the
Your doctor will advise on the best
course of treatment for you.
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