Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is a diagnosis associated with a group of symptoms affecting the nose. These symptoms occur when you breathe in something you are allergic to, such as dust, animal dander, or pollen. Symptoms can also occur when you eat a food that you are allergic to.

What is Allergic Rhinitis?
Do you get a nasal allergy when you breathe pollen or dust? If that is so, you are one of the people who are suffering from allergic rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis is an allergy caused by allergens. Allergens can be in the form of pollen, animal dander or dust. In some people changes in weather, climate, seasons, or environmental temperatures can also cause allergic rhinitis.


How does allergen affect the nasal cavity?
  • Allergens go inside our respiratory system when we breathe. Foreign bodies are not accepted in our body so the antibodies of our immune system fight them. When an allergen stimulates the immune system, our body will defend to stop it from entering our system and finally remove it. Thus, the production of mucus and inflammation of the mucus membrane in the nasal cavity occurs. 
  • Mucus and cilia trap allergens. When mucus production produces excessively, the excess will be accommodated in the sinuses of the nasal cavity. Usually, the mucus must drain from the sinus and must stay there for a short time only, but when draining is prevented pressure in the sinuses will occur, which makes the person feel discomfort, irritable and hard to breathe in the nose. 
  • The aperture of the sinuses is blocked by an inflamed mucus membrane, which restricts the flow of the mucus to the nose or mouth.

Causes
  • An allergen is something that triggers an allergy. When a person with allergic rhinitis breathes in an allergen such as pollen, mold, animal dander, or dust, the body releases chemicals that cause allergy symptoms.
  • Allergic rhinitis Hay fever involves an allergic reaction to pollen.
  • Plants that cause hay fever are trees, grasses, and weeds. Their pollen is carried by the wind. (Flower pollen is carried by insects and does not cause hay fever.) Types of plants that cause hay fever vary from person to person and from area to area.
  • The amount of pollen in the air can affect whether hay fever symptoms develop or not.
  • Hot, dry, windy days are more likely to have a lot of pollen in the air.
  • On cool, damp, rainy days, most pollen is washed to the ground.
  • Hay fever and allergies often run in families. If both of your parents have hay fever or other allergies, you are likely to have hay fever and allergies, too. The chance is higher if your mother has allergies.


What are the symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis?
Symptoms of allergic rhinitis are the following:
  1. Unstoppable sneezing
  2. Itchy nose, mouth, throat, and eyes
  3. Watery eyes
  4. Runny nose
  5. Difficulty in breathing in the nose
  6. Sore throat
  7. Headache and/or migraine
  8. Nasal congestion
  9. Fatigue and irritability
  10. Unable to smell and ear pressure
  11. Coughing
  12. Allergy attacks at the same time always, especially in the morning or night.


What can be the management?
  • Take antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroids or combinations of any of the three drugs. Examples of these drugs would be Loratadine and Cetirizine for antihistamines; Phenylpropanolamine and Phenylephrine for decongestants; and, Dexamethasone for corticosteroids. Also, leukotriene receptor antagonists such as Montelukast can be used to treat allergic rhinitis.
  • Nasal spray or drops can be used to cleanse the mucus membrane and the nose. They say if your skin is itchy and irritated you need to wash it to remove the matter that causes it. That is also applicable to the mucus membrane. Washing can remove allergens that are adhered to it which cause inflammation. Nasal spray and drops contain a saline solution or corticosteroids or a combination of the two.
  • Try to lie down and lie sideways. Breathe and feel the mucus moving from one side to the other side of your nose. If it does, then do it on the other side again. Continue to do this until you feel that you can now breathe freely in your both nostrils.
  • In case of watery eyes leave them there it will go away for some time. For coughing, sore throat, or itchy mouth drinking a lot of water, water can take care of them. For headaches, pain relievers can be taken.
  • Do or think of something to revert your thoughts from your allergy. Because most allergic rhinitis attacks for short time only and can disappear quickly.
  • If you have enough budget have allergy shots (immunotherapy). This is done by exposing you to the different allergens of an immunologist. The immunologist will determine what type of allergen causes you to have allergic rhinitis and give you allergy shots per week or depending on her recommendation. Immunotherapy will help your body to recognize allergen easily, memorize it, and not to react much when it is inside your body.

Prevention
  • Careful not to breathe allergens to prevent allergic rhinitis to occur. If your livelihood is exposed to allergens you can wear a mask or cover your nose during work. Or if attacks you always you can transfer to another work that will not cause you to allergy anymore. Drink a lot of water always. Eat healthy food. Take vitamins to boost your immune system.
  • However, allergic rhinitis will be there forever. What you can only do is to prevent yourself from allergens and to manage the symptoms it brings. (This discussion is based on my true to life experiences)

ALSO READ: What is Allergies?

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