Persons afflicted with certain hypersensitivity reaction due to changing weather, air pollution, pet’s fur and to a particular allergen are suffering from Allergic Rhinitis.
It is an inflammation of the membranes of the nose, it is characterized by sneezing, nasal itching, congestion and rhinorrhea or “runny nose”.
Tearing and redness of the eyes, feeling of fullness in the ears, headache and drowsiness are also common.
Physically, patients are noted to have dark circles around their eyes due to nasal congestion and dilatation of the nasal vessels.
Nasal discharge is thin and watery, opposite to the thick and purulent discharge of sinusitis.
Allergic Rhinitis is different from the common colds since the former is caused by an allergen while the latter is caused by a virus.
In children, boys are more prone than girls but it is noted to prevail equally during adulthood to both genders.
The presence of certain allergens in the environment can trigger the occurrence of Allergic Rhinitis and being identified for the following:
a) Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis – This is caused by seasonal specific pollen and outdoor molds which are very difficult to avoid since they are airborne.
b) Perennial Allergic Rhinitis – This is caused by allergens that are present all year round. House dust mites, pets, cockroaches and rodents are the causes of this type.
c) Sporadic or Intermittent Allergic Rhinitis – Characterized by brief encounters of the disease which is caused by allergen to which the patient is not usually exposed to. Say, a person who is not used to have pets and may eventually experience sneezing, tearing once he comes near to it.
d) Occupational Allergic Rhinitis is seen in patients who are exposed to allergen in the workplace irregardless of this type is seasonal, perennial or sporadic depending on the specific allergen that triggers the attack, as long as it occurs to patient’s workplace.
One has to undergo diagnostic tests to confirm if the patient is indeed suffering from allergic rhinitis. The most widely used is allergy skin testing.
This is done by introducing a drop of the extract of the suspected allergen into the epidermis of the patient’s skin. Sensitivity to the allergen is then determined by measuring the size of the wheal and flare produced.
Nasal smear may also recommended and is done by getting samples of nasal secretions using a special probe. The sample is then examined under a microscopic for presence of a blood component called eosinophils which are commonly observed in allergy patients.
Medications called antihistamines are widely available in the market and prove to be helpful in alleviating the discomforts associated with the disease.
However, doctors advise patients who are on antihistamines to refrain from performing activities which may pose danger to their lives, since there is a possibility that the adverse reaction will be experienced.
Nasal steroid sprays also prove to be effective in alleviating symptoms associated with Allergic Rhinitis. Decongestants are prescribed to relieve nasal congestion and fullness of the ear. They are more commonly used in combination with antihistamines.
Immunotherapy or desensitization is a treatment prescribed to make the patient get used to the particular allergen that triggers his attacks. Success rate is high but can be observed only after 6-12 months.
Moreover, severe allergic reactions are possible since the specific allergic stimuli are regularly re-introduced to the patient’s system.
Thus, this made of treatment is recommended to those with severe disease, after weighing the benefits and the risks.