Allergic rhinitis is also called as Hay fever.
Allergic rhinitis is the correct term used to describe this allergic reaction. Rhinitis means “irritation of the nose.” Allergic rhinitis has a considerable effect on quality of life and can result in considerable health- and economic-related consequences, if left untreated.1
Allergic rhinitis which occurs during a specific season is called “seasonal allergic rhinitis” and another one which occurs throughout the year is called “perennial allergic rhinitis.” The condition develops as an allergic reaction to pollen. Pollen from garden flowers usually doesn’t cause allergies. Small, light, dry pollens produced by trees, grasses and weeds, propagated by the wind lead to these allergic symptoms. Similar reaction occurs with allergens such as mold, animal dander, dust and other inhaled particles.
Symptoms of Allergic rhinitis (Clinical Features)
Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include nasal congestion, a clear runny nose, blocked nose, sneezing, watery eyes and itchiness in the eyes and nose. Postnasal dripping of mucus frequently causes cough. Loss of smell and taste is common. Nose bleeding may occur if the condition is severe.
Nasal congestion profoundly affects quality of life, largely by resulting in disturbed sleep.2 Poor-quality sleep subsequently leads to daytime drowsiness, fatigue and impairment in learning and cognition.2 Consequently, adults become less efficient and tend to experience work-related problems.
Diagnosis of Allergic rhinitis
The history of the patient’s symptoms is important in diagnosing allergic rhinitis. Allergy test will reveal the specific causative allergens. Skin test is the most common method of allergy testing. Blood test to look for a protein in the blood called IgE (immunoglobulin E) may also be helpful in determining specific allergen sensitivity. This test is usually done only in patients who cannot tolerate skin test (e.g. presence of severe eczema).
Treatment of Allergic rhinitis
Primary principles in the clinical management of allergic rhinitis include:
- Avoidance of allergens and triggering factors
- Appropriate pharmacotherapy
- Evaluation regarding need for and appropriate use of immunotherapy
- Patient education and follow-up
Avoidance of identified allergens is the most helpful factor in controlling allergy symptoms. If avoidance does not relieve the symptoms, additional treatment is needed. Antihistamines remain the mainstay of pharmacotherapy for allergic rhinitis.4 Decongestants help to control allergy symptoms but not the causes.
Currently available pharmacotherapeutic options include oral and topical (intranasal) decongestants and corticosteroids, mast cell stabilizers, and intranasal anticholinergics. In addition to the pharmacologic treatment modalities, allergic rhinitis patients may also benefited from palliative modes of treatment such as salt-water gargle to soothe the throat or steam inhalation through the nose for 10–15 min, two to four times daily.4
- Schoenwetter WF, Dupclay L Jr, Appajosyula S, Botteman MF, Pashos CL. Economic impact and quality-of-life burden of allergic rhinitis. Curr Med Res Opin. 2004; 20(3): 305–317.
- HealthStar Communications, Inc., in partnership with Schulman, Ronca and Bucuvalas, Inc. Allergies in America: A Landmark Survey of Nasal Allergy Sufferers. Executive Summary. Florham Park, NJ: Altana Pharma US, Inc., 2006.
- Owens J, Opipari L, Nobile C, et al. Sleep and daytime behavior in children with obstructive sleep apnea and behavioral sleep disorders. Pediatrics. 1998; 102: 1178–1184.
- Willsie SK. Improved strategies and new treatment options for allergic rhinitis. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2002; 102(6 Suppl 2): S7–S14.