Allergic rhinitis, along with skin rashes and other allergies, occurs when the body’s immune system becomes sensitised and then reacts to something in the environment which most people have no problem with.
Allergic rhinitis is often called hay fever. This doesn’t mean that you have to come into contact with hay or have a fever!
Allergic rhinitis takes 2 different forms:
Symptoms of seasonal allergies usually occur in Spring, Summer and the beginning of Autumn.
They are typically caused by an allergic reaction to pollens from grasses, weeds and trees or from airborne mould spores.
This is typically caused by a sensitivity to the house dust mite and its droppings, cockroaches and its saliva and droppings, pet hair or dander and moulds. People with allergic rhinitis can suffer from both seasonal and perennial rhinitis and their symptoms typically worsen during specific pollen seasons.
Hay Fever Symptoms:
- Itchy eyes and nose, mouth or skin
- Blocked and stuffy nose
- Runny nose
- Tiredness (due to poor sleep as a result of nasal congestion)
Hay Fever Triggers:
- Outdoor allergens, such as pollens from trees, weeds and grasses
- Indoor allergens, such as dust mites, pet hair, mould
- Irritants, such as perfume, exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke
Management of Allergic Rhinitis
There are some things you can to do minimise the effects of allergies such as:
- Do your best to avoid the triggers by making changes to your home and your behaviour.
- Use dust mite proof mattress protection to limit exposure.
- If you smell mildew or see mould, use a dehumidifier to control the moisture in the air.
- Always wash your hands after touching animals.
- Wear glasses when outdoors to help protect eyes from pollens.
- Keep windows in the home as well as the car closed during high pollen count seasons.
- See Dr Katzen who may prescribe medications which may help, such as antihistamines (eyedrops, oral medication, nasal spray) or allergy drops.
Diagnosis & Treatment
The best way to treat the symptoms of allergic rhinitis or hay fever is to make an appointment with Dr Katzen.
He will begin by taking a detailed history, looking for clues about your lifestyle and that can help to pinpoint the problem. We will send you for bloods tests and we also offer in-house allergy skin prick testing so we can see what allergens you may react to.
Specific immunotherapy can then be offered as a treatment to help desensitise you to the allergens that you react to. This takes the form of drops that contain small amounts of the allergen that are placed under the tongue daily. Over a period of time, you become less sensitive to the allergens you react to, and therefore your symptoms can greatly improve or even disappear.
Sometimes allergic rhinitis can be complicated by other medical conditions such as a deviated septum (curvature of the cartilage and bone which separates the nostrils) or nasal polyps (abnormal growths inside the nose, post nasal space or sinuses). In these cases, you will need the help of both an allergist and an ear, nose and throat surgeon, such as Dr Katzen.