What is allergic rhinitis
There are a lot of good things to look forward to once the winter approaches. But if you are allergic to any of the environmental allergens then you need to be careful because the most common ailments that we come across allergic rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis is commonly known as hay fever. It is a common respiratory illness that affects the quality of life, productivity and other co-morbid conditions including asthma. It is an Immunoglobulin E mediated disease. It is caused by hypersensitivity reaction where the patient is allergic to irritants such as dust, pollen, smoke, pollution.
It can affect any age group in children as well as adults. Allergic Rhinitis is commonly associated with symptoms of asthma and eczema. Your immune system typically responds to the harmless substance which acts as an intruder. This is called the Allergan. The immune system responds to the allergen by releasing histamine and chemical mediators that typically cause symptoms of nose, mouth, throat, eyes and ears.
Internally it will be due to lower immunity which can cause the problem because of which reoccurrence and relapse are quite common. You have an allergy when the body overreacts to some Allergan which may be normal for others. To subside this from root cause is essential. Taking some precaution like avoidance of Allergan is essential.
Causes of allergic rhinitis
Genetic: It may have a genetic link as it is an allergy which tends to run in families. Rhinitis runs in families as the condition is passed from parents to children.
Low immunity: Patients with low immunity are more prone to this allergy which can lead to reoccurrence and relapse
Airborne allergens: Dust mite pollen spores and animal skin, fur
Pollens: trees grasses weeds
Seasonal changes: Any kind of changes in the season like cold weather may trigger the cause of allergic rhinitis
Types of rhinitis
There are three main types of allergic rhinitis
Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis (SAR): This particular type of rhinitis occurs at certain times of the year during seasonal changes or changes of temperature and weather such as cold winds, cold weather.
Perennial Allergic Rhinitis (PAR): This particular type of rhinitis which happens throughout the year and which can occur when exposed to certain Allergan irrespective of the seasonal changes. When symptoms occur late in summer or early fall, it is termed as hay fever
Occupation Allergic Rhinitis: This particular rhinitis occurs when allergic reactions occur at the workplace due to wood dust chemicals and grains.
The allergic response begins with the production of allergic IgE antibodies, a special type of protein produced by the body. The job of these antibodies is to fin the molecule of offending substance in the bloodstream to the tissues and to escort them to body’s mast cell for destruction. On the destruction of mast cells, histamine and chemical mediators are released from the body leading to the development of allergic reaction in form of sneezing or watery fluent coryza which leads to other problem like blockage of nose, breathing difficulty and cough which may be dry or productive with fever and headache. Histamine makes sinuses, eyelids are red and swollen. It triggers sneezing reflex. It also causes itching and allows fluid to enter the tissue which results in congestion of the nose.
People who are allergic to it may have the following ten symptoms in common which may be faced by adults as well as in childhood.
TEN symptoms of allergic rhinitis:
- Runny nose
- Watery fluent coryza: cold
- Frequent cough which may be dry or productive
- Continous Sneezing
- Itchy nose
- Congested nose
- Watery eyes
- Stoppage of nose
- Anosmia loss of smell
Some of these symptoms are similar to infection like cold or flu. However, allergy symptoms tend to persist until they are treated regularly.
The duration and the periodicity of attack may vary from person to person. Some people may experience it continuously due to dust allergy and some people may experience a flare upon exposure to irritant as well. Precautions need to take regularly to avoid the allergy. Symptoms may be mild to moderate to severe depending on the intensity of the attack and the exposure to the environmental allergens. Some people might have it continuous throughout the year and for some people it is seasonal.
TEN Complications of allergic Rhinitis
- Sleep disturbance
- Day time tiredness
- Poor concentration
- Recurrent sinus infection
- Recurrent infection of the throat
- Recurrent ear infection
- Asthma which is more difficult to control
- Breathing through mouth
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Diagnosis of allergic rhinitis
Diagnosis is based on the following by a qualified professional doctor:
1) Physical examination of the patient and related to the symptoms
2)Skin testing: it is usually done in the form of the skin test or patch test or prick test is the common way of testing for a particular allergen that is causing the reaction of allergic rhinitis
3)Blood test: Blood test is useful to detect certain antibodies in the blood which can confirm the diagnosis of allergy.
4)Rhinoscopy: This particular test id did to visualize inside of passages and the upper passage of the respiratory tract to detect certain conditions such as a deviated nasal septum or nasal polyp in case of blocked nose.
5)Imaging test: X-ray, CT scans and MRI of the nose id essential in case of sinuses getting effect or any form of a structural defect in the interiors of the upper respiratory tract. These tests are essential to rule out cases of upper respiratory tract infection and to prevent further complications.
A specialist mainly an allergist is a doctor who is trained to do allergy skin testing. This will exactly tell you what things are causing you to have symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
We are generally confused with having the allergic rhinitis with frequent cold.
The main difference between cold and allergic rhinitis
Let’s go through the main difference between allergic rhinitis and frequent cold.
- Not all symptoms are the same: Cold causes episodes of fever and mild body aches whereas allergic rhinitis does not lead to fever or body aches. Cold is an infection of the upper respiratory tract
- Mucus: In allergic rhinitis, the mucus from the nose is watery, thin and clear whereas, in episodes of frequent cold, the mucus is often thick greenish or yellowish
- People with cold recover in a couple of weeks without treatment whereas allergy sufferers continue to have symptoms as long as they are exposed to Allergan with relapses and reoccurrence
- A cold is caused due to virus which is contagious Whereas allergic rhinitis is an immunological reaction to the environment on exposure to the allergen. They cannot spread from person to person
Allergy testing :
Aeroallergen minimisation: If the Allergan causing rhinitis is confirmed minimum exposure to the allergy may help to ease out the symptoms
Allergen immunotherapy: It helps in desensitisation of the immune system. It helps in reducing the severity of disease and reducing the need for the anti-allergic medicines in cases of severe allergic rhinitis. This is a long term treatment seen in the allergy clinic or immunologist with injections sprays and sublingual tablets to treat the cases of severe allergic rhinitis. Treatment is usually three to five years and typically given to patients older than 5 years of age to reduce the intensity of allergic rhinitis. Allergy shots with effective Immunotherapy can help the body become more resistant to the Allergan.
Although medications do not cure allergy they are effective and have few side effects. It is important to use them correctly and to avoid a few medications such as decongestants nasal spray and tablets
Treatment should be based on the patient’s age and severity of the episodic attack. It is also important to keep track of the frequency and duration of episodic attacks every month.
Medications for allergic rhinitis
Antihistaminic tablets nasal spray and decongestants: The advantages of antihistaminics is their flexibility. You can take them when you are suffering from itchy eyes irritated nose and episodic attack of runny nose and you can avoid it when you are well. Antihistaminic eye drops will have in controlling the allergy when you have watery eyes. The intranasal spray is efficient to relieve blocked nose but it may cause dependence and side effects. Dependency is not good in any form as it may just relieve the symptoms through the mode of palliation rather than curing it.
Intranasal corticosteroids nasal spray: Using corticosteroids will also cause severe side effects which may lead to drug dependency. Use it cautiously to avoid and minimise the side effect. Go for a natural mode of treatment instead. Nose sprays and drops should not be used for more than three days because you can be dependant on them.
Decongestant tablets may also unblock the nose and relieve the symptoms for some time but it needs to be used cautiously and with care. They can be potent but have stimulant side effects such as tremors, trouble sleeping anxiety and high blood pressure .Patients suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension should not use decongestants tablets.
20 essential steps to follow to get rid of the allergic rhinitis home remedies
1)Filter the air: Cover air conditioning vents with cheesecloth will help to trap the pollen. Keeping windows closed in high pollen season. Use HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air )filters and keep them clean. Hire someone to clean out the air ducts well once a year and take care of your nasal passages.
2)Washing your hands after petting animals: If you have pets consider them keeping outside. Animal dander and saliva are common causes of allergies.
3)Using dust and mite-proof bedding and mattress
4)Wearing glasses outside to protect eyes
5)Showering before bed to wash off allergens from hair and skin.
6)Avoid aerosol sprays
7)Avoid cold temperatures: Avoid cold winds and breezes which may tend to aggravate the problem in the long run.
8)Air pollution: It can be a major cause of allergy because of polluted air. Polluted air will tend to irritate the nasal passages making you difficult to breathe. Take in fresh clean air.
9)Avoid Tobacco Smoke: Avoid cigarette smoking and passive smoking which can affect your nasal passages and won’t allow you to recover from the allergic rhinitis
10)Irritating fumes: Irritating industrial pollutants can be hazardous for your lungs and respiratory tract in the long run
11) Humidity Keep humidity in your home below 50 per cent
12)Drinking herbal tea: Take warm drinks made of gingko and milk thistle with herbal teas which can soothe the nasal passages.
13) Wear a mask: If you want to avoid the dust and animal dander while working in the yard or commuting to workwear a mask
14)Eat healthily: A well-balanced diet is key to keep your immunity strong. So eat well and healthy food. Avoid junk and outside food
15)Rinse it out: It is essential to rinse out the mucus from the nose which will clear the airway passage and allow you to breathe well. Mix three tablespoons of iodide salt and one teaspoon of baking soda with eight ounces of distilled or boiled cooled water and rinse the mucus out of nose well.
16) Steam inhalation: Take steam inhalation from boiling water which will help you instead of taking intranasal sprays
17)Go natural and go chemical-free: avoid dust and keep home clean as well as away from chemicals
18)Consider acupuncture: Go for ancient practices which provide relief. Talk to the doctor and give it a try
19)Know your allergens: Make an appointment with the allergist who will help you track your allergens and the causes to which your body reacts. Track the record of allergens
20)Vitamin C supplements: Taking a vitamin C supplement with a general multivitamin will help in overall immunity of the individual and provide long-lasting relief.
Living with allergic rhinitis and when to see a doctor :
Living with allergic rhinitis can affect your daily life. Nasal symptoms can be worse when lying down. This can disturb your ability to sleep well. Fatigue and disturbed sleep can affect your day to day functioning at school and work. It affects the quality of life.there are many medicines and treatments that can help manage symptoms. Talk to your doctor if your symptoms start getting worse or out of control. To recover and prevent this relapse follow these twenty essential steps and get rid of allergic rhinitis from the root cause.