Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is the set of symptoms that occurs when you breathe in substances you are allergic to. These substances are called allergens and are small proteins.

  • Causes

    An allergic reaction occurs when your body's immune system overreacts to an allergen. When you breathe in an allergen, cells in your nasal passages release a chemical called histamine. Histamine causes your nose to feel itchy. Histamine also causes swelling and mucus production in the nasal passages.

    Site of Histamine Production
    Nasal passage
    This area has swelling and increased mucus production after contact with an allergen.
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  • Definition

    Allergic rhinitis is the set of symptoms that occurs when you breathe in substances you are allergic to. These substances are called allergens and are small proteins.

    • Seasonal (intermittent) allergic rhinitis (sometimes called hay fever or rose fever)—This occurs during times of the year when allergens are in the air, like spring, summer, and fall. The most common allergens are tree, grass, or weed pollens.
    • Perennial (persistent) allergic rhinitis—This condition is caused by allergens that may be present year round. These may include chemicals, dust, dust mites, cockroaches, animal dander, or mold spores. Symptoms may be present any time of year.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will try to find out which allergens you are allergic to. You may be referred to an allergist or immunologist. This is a doctor who specializes in allergies.

    Tests may include:

  • Prevention


    The following strategies may help
    prevent allergic rhinitis
    :

    • Stay inside during the morning hours when pollen counts are highest.
    • Avoid outside activities during the time of year when the trees, grasses, weeds, or molds are blooming.
    • Keep the windows of your house and car closed to keep pollen out.
    • Use an air conditioner to reduce indoor humidity and to prevent mold and mildew growth.
    • Clean your air conditioner's filters regularly.
    • Consider running an air purifier in your home, especially in your bedroom.
    • Use vacuum cleaners and air conditioners with HEPA filters to trap allergens.
    • Decrease or avoid outdoor activities on hot summer days, when ozone levels may make your symptoms worse.
    • Cover pillows and mattresses with vinyl covers to reduce your exposure to dust mites.
    • Wash bedding weekly in very hot water.
    • Use fewer dust-collecting lis, such as curtains, bed skirts, carpeting, and stuffed animals, especially in your bedroom.
    • If you can't avoid having a pet with fur, vacuum frequently and keep your pet out of bedrooms and other rooms with carpets.

  • Risk Factors

    Risk factors that increase your chance of developing allergic rhinitis include:


    • Family members with allergic rhinitis,
      eczema
      , or
      asthma
    • Eczema
    • Asthma
    • Food allergies

  • Symptoms

    Allergic rhinitis can cause the following symptoms:

    • Sneezing
    • Itching in the nose, eyes, throat, and ears
    • Red, watery eyes
    • Runny nose, nasal congestion
    • Sinus pressure

    • Postnasal drip and
      cough
    • Headache
    • Dark circles under your eyes

  • Treatment

    The most effective way to treat allergies is to avoid the allergen. Since this can sometimes be difficult or impossible, other treatments are available.

    Treatments may include:


    If you are diagnosed with allergic rhinitis, follow your doctor's
    instructions
    .