Allergic Rhinitis: More Than Just a Runny Nose
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you’re likely familiar with the usual symptoms: sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and itching of the throat or ears. What you might not realize, however, is that these symptoms are often caused by an allergic reaction that extends beyond your nose and sinuses to other areas of your body.
More than just a runny nose or some congestion, allergic rhinitis affects your entire respiratory system and can disrupt your daily routine if not treated properly.
What is Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis refers to an inflammation of the mucous membranes in the nose and sinuses that results from an allergic reaction to foreign substances such as pollen, dust, dander, food, and other airborne particles.
It causes your body to release histamine and other chemicals that produce symptoms such as sniffling, sneezing, a runny nose, watery eyes, and itchy eyes, nose, and throat. In some cases, it may also cause more serious issues like breathing difficulties or even sinus infections.
This common condition affects millions worldwide, with approximately 19 million adults and 5 million children affected yearly in the United States
Allergic rhinitis can be seasonal (hay fever) or year-round (perennial allergic rhinitis).
Risk Factors for Allergic Rhinitis
Anyone can develop allergic rhinitis, but it is most common in children and young adults. It is also more likely to affect people who have asthma or eczema. A family history of allergic rhinitis also increases the chances of someone developing the condition.
Other risk factors for developing allergic rhinitis include smoking, certain allergies, and environmental factors. However, it’s unclear why some people with these risk factors never develop allergic rhinitis while others do.
Diagnosis and Testing for People with Symptoms
If you have symptoms of allergic rhinitis, your doctor will likely start with a physical exam and a review of your medical history. They may also ask you about your symptoms and when they occur. Your doctor may recommend skin testing or blood tests to confirm an allergy diagnosis.
Once allergies are diagnosed, you and your doctor can develop a treatment plan.
Treatments for Allergic Rhinitis
There are many treatments available for allergic rhinitis, and the best course of action depends on the severity of your symptoms. They include:
- Antihistamines: these drugs reduce histamine production and block its effects in tissues. Common antihistamines used to treat allergies include loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), fexofenadine (Allegra), and desloratadine (Clarinex).
- Nasal steroids: These drugs suppress inflammation in the nose by reducing the number of natural allergy-triggering body hormones produced. Examples include fluticasone propionate (Flonase, Flovent), budesonide (Pulmicort), and triamcinolone acetonide (Nasacort AQ).
- Immunotherapy: This treatment exposes you to small amounts of allergens so your immune system will stop responding to them as threats. Desensitization injections can be administered during the winter months, or daily doses of sublingual drops can be taken during the summer months. Research has shown immunotherapy to be very effective in treating allergic rhinitis, with benefits lasting up to six years after initial treatment.
- Surgery: If medications are not alleviating your symptoms and are severely impacting your quality of life negatively, your doctor may recommend surgery. The most common type of surgery is called turbinate reduction surgery. However, if you’re considering a surgical option, first talk to your doctor about what other treatments might work before taking this step.
- Aromatherapy oils: Essential oils have been proven to offer relief from seasonal allergies and hay fever because they contain healing properties. Some of the best essential oils for alleviating nasal congestion are lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil. Mixing these therapeutic-grade essential oils with an organic carrier oil such as coconut oil creates an aromatic nasal inhaler that can help reduce symptoms like runny nose, watery eyes, and itchy throat/nose membranes.
There are a few things you can do to prevent allergic reactions:
-Identify your triggers and avoid them if possible.
-Take medications as prescribed by your doctor.
-Use an air purifier in your home.
-Wash your bedding in hot water weekly.
-Shower and wash your hair before going to bed.
We understand that allergic rhinitis can cause problems in your daily routine, ruining your quality of life. So if you’re dealing with the symptoms mentioned, know that you’re not alone. At Advanced Sinus Relief Centers, we offer a wide range of treatment and management options, including allergy testing, immunotherapy, prescription medication management, and more. Call us today to learn more about how our services can benefit you, or use our easy online appointment scheduler here!