Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic RhinitisAllergic rhinitis affect from 10-20 % of the population worldwide, and more in some parts of the world. About 40% of patients with allergic rhinitis have concomitant asthma, and 95% of patients with allergic asthma have associated allergic rhinitis.

Q: What is allergic rhinitis?
A: Allergic rhinitis occur when the lining of the nose become inflamed and swollen as a result of breathing particles the individual is allergic to. It is the most common cause of morbidity in developed countries.

Q: What are the signs and symptoms of allergic rhinitis?
A: Signs of allergic rhinitis are similar to signs of a common cold. But, unlike common cold symptoms, allergic rhinitis last for more than 8-10 days and may include:

  • A stuffy nose or a runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose
  • Itchy eyes or watery eyes
  • Coughing caused by clear mucus running down the back of the throat
Allergic Rhinitis Q: What are the causes of allergic rhinitis?
A: Allergic rhinitis is caused by particles that trigger allergies, called allergens. These allergens can be found both outdoors and indoors. Outdoor allergens, including mold, trees, grass and weed pollens usually cause seasonal allergies. Indoor allergens, such as animal dander , indoor mold, or the droppings of cockroaches or house dust mites, usually associated with year-round allergies.

Q: How can i know what i am allergic to?
A: An allergist can perform skin tests to decide for sure which allergens cause the symptoms.

Q: If left untreated, what are the complications of allergic rhinitis?
A: Many problems can occur if your nose allergy is left untreated. These include:

  • Sinusitis
  • Otitis media (middle ear infection)
  • Post-nasal drip (leading to prolonged cough)
  • Nasal polyps (enlargement of nasal mucosa leading to severe blockage of the nose with loss of smell)
  • Other complications include asthma, poor quality sleep & poor concentration during day-time, increase susceptibility to upper airway infections
Q: What is the treatment for Allergic Rhinitis?
A: There are many treatment options for this condition, depending on the nature and severity of the condition. These include avoidance measures that your doctor can go over with you. Also, there are multiple medication options that can be used including pills or nasal sprays, among others. Another treatment option include immunotherapy (allergy shots), which are used in certain circumstances.
An allergist will be the best person to determine the medicine and treatment that is right for you.

Q: What are allergy shots?
A: Allergy shots, also called immunotherapy, are very helpful in certain situations. They work by changing the immune system making it more tolerable to the allergens it encounter. They are usually indicated if the symptoms do not respond well to medicine, if they happen when you are around allergens that are hard to avoid, and for certain allergens and age groups.

Q: If i have allergic rhinitis, can i prevent it from happening to my children?
A: Many studies aimed at decreasing or delaying the occurrence of allergies in children with family history of allergies. Below are some advices to help reducing the risk of your child developing allergic rhinitis, food allergy, atopic eczema &/ or asthma:

  1. Maternal smoking, active or passive, during pregnancy is associated with increased wheezing during infancy. Exposing children to secondhand smoke in the home has also been shown to increase the development of asthma and other chronic lung illnesses. Therefore, it is extremely important that infants not be exposed to tobacco smoke before or after they are born.
  2. Breast feeding for the recommended time period of at least 6 months strengthens children's immune systems, This practice has been shown to reduce percentage of allergic diseases in later life.
  3. Other specific recommendations for newborns who are at very high risk include:
    • Consumption of Probiotics by mothers during last trimester of pregnancy and breast-feeding.
    • Solid foods should not be introduced to high-risk infants until 6 months of age.
    • Consumption of dairy products should be delayed until 1 year, eggs until 2 years, and peanuts, nuts, and fish until 3 years of age.
    • Diets rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids should be encouraged during the second half of pregnancy.
    • Reducing contact with major environmental allergens is shown to reduce development of environmental allergies including asthma. This is especially for House dust mites. However, recent medical data have suspected such relationship

(For the proper measures on house dust mite control, Please see the section on controlling indoor allergens)