Allergic rhinitis refers to a group of symptoms—such as a runny or itchy nose, watery eyes, and sneezing—that result from inflammation of the nasal mucous membranes. A common, but inaccurate, name for this condition is hay fever. It is estimated that 40-50 million people in the United States develop allergic rhinitis during their lifetime. Allergic rhinitis precedes the onset of asthma in over 50% of cases so treating it as early as possible is recommended.
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Mucous membranes in the nose may become inflamed when certain airborne allergens—such as dust, pollen, mold, or animal dander—are inhaled. For those who are sensitive, these allergens stimulate an excessive immune reaction.
The body makes an...
A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop allergic rhinitis with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing allergic rhinitis. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
The primary risk factor for developing allergic rhinitis is genetic history. If both of your parents have allergic rhinitis, you have a 75% chance of developing it. If only one parent has allergic rhinitis, your risk is decreased to 50%.
Your risk of developing allergic rhinitis is increased if you have other allergies. The most common...
Allergic Rhinitis symptoms are caused when allergens or irritants create excessive congestion in the normal breathing process. Both perennial and seasonal allergic rhinitis cause the same symptoms, which may include:
- Runny nose and nasal congestion
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Itchy nose, ears, or throat
- Sinus pressure
- Dark circles under your eyes (also known as “allergic shiners”)
- Post-nasal drip
- Decreased sense of smell and taste
- Chronic cough
Your doctor or allergist will begin by taking a detailed medical history, which will include questions about your lifestyle, eating habits, family and medical history, and medication use. To establish an allergic rhinitis diagnosis, your doctor will also do a physical exam and will check inside your nose for signs of inflammation. Then, the health care professional can put in place a treatment plan for the allergic rhinitis.
Testing for allergic rhinitis may include:
- Skin test—Skin testing is one of the easiest, most sensitive, and least expensive ways to diagnose allergic rhinitis. A tiny allergen particle is placed under the skin with a needle. An allergic response is confirmed if the skin becomes raised, red, and itchy within 20 minutes.
- RAST blood test—For this...
There are no guidelines for reducing your risk of allergic rhinitis because it is not fully understood why some people develop allergic reactions to certain substances while others do not.
But researchers are studying to see if mothers can reduce allergies in their children by taking certain measures during pregnancy. For example, not having pets may help reduce wheezing in babies prone to allergies. For adults, closely following the Mediterranean diet may offer some protection from allergic rhinitis. More research needs to be done before any recommendations for reducing the risk of allergic rhinitis can be made.
American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy
1990 M Street, NW, Suite 680
Washington, DC 20036
Description of services provided:
This professional organization, representing over 2,000 otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat doctors), provides patient resources, such as physician search, allergy facts, and a pollen map of the US.
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
One Prince St.
Alexandria, VA 22314-3357
Description of services provided:
Information about allergies, treatment, medications, and how to find an...
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