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Allergic rhinitis

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Allergic rhinitis is the correct term used to describe this allergic reaction. Rhinitis means “irritation of the nose.” Allergic rhinitis has a considerable effect on quality of life and can result in considerable health- and economic-related consequences, if left untreated.1

Allergic rhinitis which occurs during a specific season is called “seasonal allergic rhinitis” and another one which occurs through out the year is called “perennial allergic rhinitis.” The condition develops as an allergic reaction to pollen. Pollen from garden flowers usually doesn’t cause allergies. Small, light, dry pollens produced by trees, grasses and weeds, propagated by the wind lead to these allergic symptoms. Similar reaction occurs with allergens such as mold, animal dander, dust and other inhaled particles.
 

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include nasal congestion, a clear runny nose, blocked nose, sneezing, watery eyes and itchiness in the eyes and nose. Postnasal dripping of mucus frequently causes cough. Loss of smell and taste is common. Nose bleeding may occur if the condition is severe.

Nasal congestion profoundly affects quality of life, largely by resulting in disturbed sleep.2 Poor-quality sleep subsequently leads to daytime drowsiness, fatigue and impairment in learning and cognition.2 Consequently, adults become less efficient and tend to experience work-related problems.

 

Diagnosis of allergic rhinitis

The history of the patient’s symptoms is important in diagnosing AR. Allergy test will reveal the specific causative allergens. Skin test is the most common method of allergy testing. Blood test to look for a protein in the blood called IgE (immunoglobulin E) may also be helpful in determining specific allergen sensitivity. This test is usually done only in patients who cannot tolerate skin test (e.g. presence of severe eczema).

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Treatment of allergic rhinitis

Primary principles in the clinical management of AR include:
  • Avoidance of allergens and triggering factors
  • Appropriate pharmacotherapy
  • Evaluation regarding need for and appropriate use of immunotherapy
  • Patient education and follow-up


Avoidance of identified allergens is the most helpful factor in controlling allergy symptoms. If avoidance does not relieve the symptoms, additional treatment is needed. Antihistamines remain the mainstay of pharmacotherapy for allergic rhinitis.4 Decongestants help to control allergy symptoms but not the causes.

Currently available pharmacotherapeutic options include oral and topical (intranasal) decongestants and corticosteroids, mast cell stabilizers, and intranasal anticholinergics. In addition to the pharmacologic treatment modalities, allergic rhinitis patients may also benefitted from palliative modes of treatment such as salt-water gargle to soothe the throat or steam inhalation through the nose for 10–15 min, two to four times daily.4

 

Prevention of allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is characterized by sneezing, rhinorrhoea, itching of the nose, nasal obstruction or post nasal drainage.

You need to avoid the cause of your allergies. If you do not know the cause of allergy, check with your doctor.
 
If you are allergic to pollen:
  1. Keep the windows and doors of your house hold.
  2. If you need to use the air conditioning, keep the unit on the indoor cycle.
  3. Do not use the window or attic fans.
  4. Do not dry your clothing out doors.
  5. Take the bath after outdoor activity to remove pollen from your hair and skin and to keep it from getting into your bedding.
If you are allergic to outdoor molds:
  1. Stay indoors as much as possible
  2. If you need to use air conditioning, keep the unit on the indoor cycle.

If you are allergic to indoor molds:

  1. Do not keep house plants.
  2. If your floor is damp do not put carpet or furniture there, use a dehumidifier to dry it Drain standing water as soon as possible.
  3. Clean the home with water with antiseptic solution.
If you are allergic dust mites:
  1. Do not clean the house with out dust masks.
  2. Do not store unused things in the house.
  3. Keep your bed room very clean, wash pillow covers and bed sheets at least twice a week. Washing with hot water is recommended.
  4. Do not use old mattress


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Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: October 08, 2012