Dealing With Allergic Rhinitis
Allergic symptoms are caused when a person comes in contact with an allergen like dust, pollen, mould or animal dander
When the nose is affected by a group of symptoms, it is diagnosed as allergic rhinitis. The symptoms are seen when one breathes something they are allergic to like animal dander, pollen or dust. These can also occur when allergic food is eaten.
An allergy is often triggered by an allergen. The body releases chemicals like leukotrienes and histamines when a person comes ‘n contact with an allergen like dust, pollen, mould or animal dander, causing allergic symptoms.
Hay fever is a kind of allergic rhinitis and allergic bronchitis caused mostly by pollen from grass, weeds and trees. The types of plants that cause allergic symptoms vary from person to person and from area to area. Allergies and hay fever often run in families. Kids generally have allergies and hay fever if both parents have them. However, the chances is higher if the mother has them.
Symptoms that occur after one comes in contact with the substance one s allergic to, includes itching of the nose, throat, eyes and ears, watery discharge from the nose, continuous sneezing. blocked nose. redness and watering of eyes and weary tired and sleepy feeling. Persistent and repeated allergic reactions are manifested with a blocked nose, dry cough, decreased sense of smell. and blocked ears, puffiness, dark circles and headaches due to sinus blockage, skin pigmentation. fatigue and irritability.
- Avoiding pollens causing the allergy is the best form of treatment. All pollen may not be avoided but steps can be taken if allergens are identified.
- There are various diagnostic tools used like the skin prick test or patch tests. In vitro tests using serum sample is also available for some allergens.
- Medicines are prescribed to treat allergic rhinitis depending on the severity of the symptoms. And age and medical history are considered before medicines are prescribed.
- A nasal wash removes mucus from the nose in mild allergic rhinitis. For the nasal wash a saline solution can be made at home with half teaspoon of salt, pinch of baking soda and lOO ml of warm water. This wash can also be bought at a drug store.
Antihistamines treat symptoms of allergy and can be used when symptoms do not last long. But remember:
- Antihistamines can be bought without a prescription.
- They cause sleepiness.
- Some don’t cause any sleepiness.
- Antihistamine nasal sprays are effective.
- Topical nasal corticosteroids are the most effective treatment.
- They need to be used nonstop.
- Adults and children can use corticosteroid sprays.
- It is safer to buy and use these sprays under a doctor’s supervision.
- Nasal stuffiness can be reduced by decongestants.
- But do not use decongestants for more than three to seven days.
- These medicines cause a condition called rhinitis medicamentosa which is quite refractive to treatment if used continuously.
- Leukotnenes can be blocked with leukotriene inhibitors. The body releases these chemicals when affected by an allergen. However, these have to be used for a period of 30 days to 90 days in a tapering dose under medical supervision.
If pollen cannot be avoided and symptoms not controlled, immunotherapy can be used. These include shots of the allergic pollen. Every allergy dose is higher than the previous one so that the body adjusts itself to the pollen.
Sublingual Immunotherapy Treatment (SLIT)
Instead of shots, the allergens are titrated gradually much like in immunotherapy shots and put under the tongue, till the symptoms come under control.
It is important to know that untreated allergic rhinitis can evolve into allergic bronchitis and asthma over a period of years. In some cases the allergic reaction is so severe, oedema of the nose lining occurs leading to the formation of nasal polyps.
Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS) may be needed to remove the polyps and long term topical nasal corticosteroid sprays and regular nasal lavage need to be used to prevent recurrence. Also, though it may not be possible to get a permanent cure for allergic rhinitis for diabetics, the condition can be controlled.
Common Allergens To Avoid
- Outdoor allergens, such as pollens from weeds, trees and grass.
- Indoor allergens, such as mould, dust mites and pet hair or dander.
- Irritants, such as perfume, automobile exhaust and cigarette smoke.