What is Allergic Rhinitis and how can one avoid it? Inflammation of the mucous membrane present in the nose is called Rhinitis. As the name suggests, allergic rhinitis is the inflammation of the nose due to allergic response. It is triggered by allergens such as dust, plant pollen, molds, fungi, cockroaches and animal dander. It is known as hay fever when the allergen is grass pollen.
These allergens trigger an immune response in the body and IgE (immunoglobulin E) antibody is produced. IgE binds to a type of cell called as mast cell and stimulates it to release histamine, a molecule responsible for the symptoms of allergic rhinitis such as runny nose, sneezing, inflammation and obstruction of the nasal passage, watery eyes, smell disturbances and itchiness in the nose, eyes or throat. Though the symptoms resemble cold or flu, allergic rhinitis is not a viral infection.
There are two types of Allergic Rhinitis:
- Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis: occurs only in particular seasons. Examples: pollens from plants or grass
- Perennial Allergic Rhinitis: occurs throughout the year. Examples: dust, animal dander, cockroaches, molds, fungi, etc
It is mainly treated by using intra-nasal corticosteroids. Antihistamine drugs and decongestants are also used to reduce the symptoms. Allergic Rhinitis is best prevented by avoiding exposure to allergens. If it is impossible to avoid an allergen then allergy shots (injections) can be used which helps the body to slowly adjust to allergens.
Tips to avoid Allergic Rhinitis:
- If you are allergic to pollen, try to avoid outdoor activities and do not dry your clothes. outside the house especially during particular seasons such as spring and fall.
- Wear a nose mask especially when a lot of time is spent outdoors.
- Close your windows to prevent the entry of pollen or dust into your house.
- Keep your house clean and dry. Always wash your carpets, curtains, toys and linen in hot water once in a week to remove dust or pollen. You can even avoid the use of carpets and stuffed toys.
- Use a HEPA (High efficiency particulate air) filter to purify the air in your house and car
- Bathe twice daily and especially after reaching home from office
- If you are allergic to animal dander, it is advisable to avoid pets or at least avoid them from entering your bedroom
- You should be careful if you have a family history of allergies. Identify the allergens and avoid them
- Skin tests or blood tests can be performed to find out the allergens which can cause allergies in you.
- Install exhaust fans in your bathrooms and kitchen and always keep the areas dry and clean to prevent dust, molds and cockroaches.
You can minimize the risk of exposure to allergens by following the above mentioned tips to avoid Allergic Rhinitis.
When to call a doctor?
You should consult a doctor if you:
- Feel pain in the sinus area
- Experience creamy/yellow/green discharge from the nose
- Experience severe itching of nose
- Are suffering from fever and ear pain