Allergic rhinitis is inflammation of the nasal cavity caused by allergens such as pollens and animal dander.
Symptoms of allergic rhinitis
Itchy nose, sneezing, a clear nasal discharge
and a stuffy, blocked nose. Allergic rhinitis is generally accompanied by an itchy palate (back of the mouth), itchy ear canals and eyes. Other common characteristic symptoms include, tiredness
, a discharge at the back of the throat, difficulty in concentrating, feeling sleepy, and a loss of smell.
Other Nonspecific irritating allergens
If you suffer with hay fever
(allergy to pollens) for example your nasal cavity can be permanently weakened. Unfortunately this can cause increased sensitivity to other substances such a solvents, paints, tobacco, perfumes etc. As a result this can worsen your nasal discomfort.
In Children allergic rhinitis can present more as coughs and colds which can delay diagnosis and incorrect treatment being prescribed.
Links between the nose and the lungs
Allergic rhinitis and asthma
are closely linked.
The nose cavity and the bronchi are covered by the same type of cells
, therefore the same inflammatory response occurs when exposed to allergens.
- Approximately, 1 in 3 people suffering from allergic rhinitis will develop asthma.
- 80 percent of asthmatic people suffer from allergic rhinitis.
- Asthma and rhinitis can appear at the same time, but rhinitis appears generally on its own several years before asthma.
Rhinitis and asthma
If allergic rhinitis is inadequately treated it can impact on the lungs and cause asthma. In addition, any untreated allergic rhinitis can worsen asthma.
Perennial rhinitis occurs throughout the year
It lasts longer, for over several months and sometimes continues throughout the year, in no particular order.
- The allergens concerned are mostly dust mites and animals.
- The symptoms are made worse in dusty and humid places.
- Some episodes of allergic rhinitis can occur even after short contact time with specific allergens - for example cats and dogs.
- Allergy testing is the only way to correctly identify specific allergens.
Seasonal rhinitis, commonly called hay fever
It happens each year at the same for a few weeks. In 80% of cases is generally caused grass, tree, and flower pollens , or moulds.
Classification of allergic rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis can be classified by its impact on asthma, and defines the rhinitis according to its duration and its severity:
- Persistent rhinitis lasts 4 days a week and this during 4 weeks in the year.
- Intermittent rhinitis lasts less than 4 days a week and less than 4 weeks per year.
This classification enables a better assessment of the intensity and duration of the symptoms.
- Moderate to severe rhinitis: symptoms are sever enough to cause embarrassment in daily life, professional or school activities as well as disturbing sleep.
- Mild rhinitis : negligible symptoms, with little effect on sleep and daily life.
The diagnosis and treatment of persistent rhinitis is essential to improve peoples daily lives and to avoid the possibility of developing asthma.
It is characterised by both eyes being very itchy, red, and clear discharge like tears. People suffering from conjunctivitis
often describe it as having sand in their eyes..
- In addition, bright lights or sunlight know as photophobia can also be an added symptom.
- Allergic conjunctivitis often presents itself alongside allergic rhinitis, especially pollens, however, animals, house dust mite, latex etc can also cause allergic conjunctivitis.
- Certain foods can cause allergic conjunctivitis.
- An ophthalmic assessment is sometimes essential in order to assess the severity of the symptoms and if necessary prescribe steroid eye drops. Steroid drops can be harmful to the eyes in any undiagnosed corneal problems and can cause a rise in pressure so ophthalmic monitoring will be necessary.
Advice : wear sunglasses when you are allergic to pollens and avoid rubbing your eyes.