Allergic rhinitis is characterised by episodes of sneezing, rhinorrhoea and nasal obstruction. Allergic rhinitis is associated with irritation of conjunctiva of eye – allergic conjunctivitis, exacerbation of asthma, otitis media, eustachian tube dysfunction, sinusitis and nasal polyps
When and why does allergic rhinitis occur?
Allergic rhinitis develops when an atopic individual is first exposed to certain airborne allergens such as pollens, fungal spores, animal hairs, dust mite etc. This gives rise to a number of immune reactions characterised by an increased level of immunoglobulin E (IgE). Upon a second exposure to the allergens, IgE activates mast cells to release inflammatory mediators such as histamines and leukotrienes. A reaction is then produced in the nasal mucosa, which causes sneezing, itching, congestion and rhinorrhoea.
How to improve symptoms of allergic rhinitis?
- Do not smoke and stay away from secondhand smoke. Cigarette smoke can trigger nasal allergies and make allergy symptoms worse.
- Reduce ice cold drinks
- Allergy testing – Identifying the source of allergens may improve nasal symptoms.
- Keep your environment free of irritants and allergens that can trigger sinus congestion, such as dust, mold, smoke, chemical fumes and animal hair. This includes
- washing bed sheets weekly,
- keeping your pets out of your sleeping area,
- cleaning the air con filter monthly and setting the air con temperature at no colder than 25 degrees Celsius.
- Anti-histamines: Production of histamines by mast cells are the main cause of allergic symptoms upon exposure to allergens. Anti-histamines are prescribed to combat the symptoms of allergy and they are available in drowsy and non drowsy formulae.
- Leukotriene modifiers (Singulair): reduce inflammation and symptoms of allergic rhinitis by blocking the action of the leukotrienes. Leukotrienes are a type of chemical that your body releases after you have contact with an allergen. This release leads to inflammatory symptoms such as stuffy and runny nose.
- Nasal corticosteroids are prescribed to reduce inflammation associated with allergies. Nasal corticosteroids are highly effective drugs for allergies, but they must be sprayed daily to be of benefit — even when you aren’t feeling allergy symptoms. In addition, it may take one to two weeks before the full benefit of the medicine can be felt.