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Allergic rhinitis: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About allergic rhinitis (Perennial and seasonal)

It is one of the most commonly encountered upper respiratory problems caused by inflammation of the nasal passages. This inflammation of the nasal mucous membranes is triggered by an allergic reaction to an offending agent.

Allergic rhinitis (Perennial and seasonal): Incidence, age and sex

Allergic rhinitis may occur in all age groups but it has a higher frequency of occurrence in children. It affects men and women equally.

Signs and symptoms of allergic rhinitis (Perennial and seasonal): Diagnosis

The signs and symptoms of allergic rhinitis mimic that of the common cold. Running nose, frequent sneezing and irritation in nose and throat are the commonest symptoms. Other features include red, watery eyes, sore throat, blocked ears and headache. Repeated attacks of allergic reactions may impair the sense of smell. Clinical features of allergic rhinitis are not serious, but they may be a source of considerable distress to the individual.

Causes and prevention of allergic rhinitis (Perennial and seasonal)

Any allergic reaction affecting the nasal passages may trigger an inflammatory response, as a result of which a chemical substance, histamine gets released. Histamine causes increased congestion and swelling of mucous membrane lining the nose and nasal passages. Allergic rhinitis is more frequent in persons with a positive family history of allergic disorders like allergic rhinitis itself, allergic dermatitis and bronchial asthma. Structural abnormality like deviated nasal septum may also predispose a person to allergic rhinitis. Some allergic irritants that may trigger inflammation of nasal passages include plant pollens, house dust, moulds and sudden changes in temperatures. Outdoor pollution like cigarette smoke, industrial and vehicular smoke may also set off an allergic response. Carpets, pets and fur clothes are some other allergic agents which should be avoided.

Allergic rhinitis (Perennial and seasonal): Complications

Repeated episodes of allergic reactions affect sleep and concentration resulting in poor performance. Other complications of allergic rhinitis include concurrent ear infections, inflammation of the sinuses and persistent headache. Long standing rhinitis may herald complete loss of the sense of smell.

Allergic rhinitis (Perennial and seasonal): Treatment

Detailed medical history including family history together with comprehensive physical examination of the nose, the ear and the throat will confirm the diagnosis of allergic rhinitis in an individual.

Unfortunately this condition is incurable but the good part is that it can be effectively controlled and treated. The goal of the treatment is to alleviate the distressing symptoms. Avoid exposure to allergic agents. Nasal saline wash can be used to clear nasal congestion and irritation. Other medications which may be prescribed are oral preparations of nasal decongestant and anti-allergic agents. Steroidal nasal sprays are another option when the above measures fail. Another treatment modality called immunotherapy may be considered when a satisfactory response to the medical treatment is not observed. It can only be considered if the identification of the offending agent is possible. Surgery may be required for the correction of the deviated nasal septum.