Allergic rhinitis: what it is, symptoms, causes and various treatments
Allergic rhinitis has several symptoms that can affect the lifestyle, often confused with cold or conjunctivitis. Rhinitis is a response of the immune system to allergens, manifests itself as an inflammation of the nasal mucosa, and symptoms include nasal leakage, red eyes, sneezing, itching. There are various methods of treatment, as varied as the causes.
When exposed to certain factors that trigger an abnormal immunological reaction, the body gives rise to specific antibodies to protect it. This process is manifested by various signals in the airways and sinuses, in the skin or in the digestive system, mainly affecting the eyes, ears, throat and, especially, the nose. Excessive production of nasal secretions, eye itching, frequent sneezing, difficult breathing occurs.
Inflammation of the nasal mucosa, as a result of exposure to allergens (inhaled, ingested, of contact) outdoors or indoors, is classified as allergic rhinitis. The nose, which is constantly sought, reacts to changes in the environment and tries to reject external stimuli. Although they are not harmful to us, the body's response is one that consists of unpleasant symptoms.
In recent years, the incidence of allergies has increased, which is why it is believed that allergic rhinitis can also be inherited. In addition to genetic predisposition, rhinitis can also be triggered by house dust, mites, certain medicines or food, and the most well-known allergen is pollen. It is estimated that 1 from 5 people suffer from allergic rhinitis and experience an uncomfortable state of clogged nose and itching or tearing, accompanied by red eyes. With various preventive measures at hand, this hypersensitivity to certain substances has various causes, but also natural treatments that can improve the condition of the patient.
Allergic rhinitis symptoms
Without being a complex condition, allergic rhinitis can influence the quality of life. It negatively changes your ability to work and concentrate, the way you rest, your relationship with other people and your physical condition in general. Often mistaken with a cold, symptoms of an allergic rhinitis occur when coming into contact with an allergen and the immune system triggers specific reactions such as:
- clogging of the nose, with aqueous leakage;
- the sensation of stings in the ear;
- ocular or nasal pruritus;
- recurrent headaches;
- sore throat;
- pain in the pharynx;
- low chance of breathing through the nose;
- excessive tearing of the eyes and swollen eyelids;
- eczema on the skin, which is manifested by itching and blistering.
Types of allergic rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis is of several types and can be classified according to the type of allergens that trigger it and the timing of the trigger, as follows:
- persistent allergic rhinitis occurs when allergens are present throughout the year and manifestations occur both indoors and outdoors; lasts for long periods of time;
- seasonal allergic rhinitis occurs at changes in seasons, when you expose yourself to seasonal allergens, so only at certain times of the year; occurs especially in autumn and spring; it is also popularly known as ”hay fever”;
- occupational allergic rhinitis occurs when symptoms occur exclusively in the workplace, where exposure to various allergenic substances is made;
- sporadic allergic rhinitis occurs when you have very rarely contact with the trigger allergen, so occasionally.
Depending on how often it manifests and how severe, allergic rhinitis can also be classified as:
- intermittent (symptoms occur less than 4 days a week or less than 4 weeks a year);
- persistent (symptoms occur more than 4 days a week or less than 4 weeks a year);
- mild (symptoms don't affect your sleep, daily activities, career; you don't have symptoms that bother you much);
- moderate to severe (symptoms make your daily activities or work difficult and bother you a lot).
Causes of allergic rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis occurs as a result of reactions to which the immune system responds, allergens being the ones that trigger them. When a substance is identified as harmful to the body, antibodies are produced, which in turn send a signal to the body. The most common causes are as follows:
- outdoor causes: tree pollen (especially those without flowers), grass, crabgrass (ambrosia, artemisia);
- indoor causes: pet hair, pets lint or fur, dust mites, mold, fluff, feathers;
- irritating causes: the smell of gasoline, cigarette smoke, perfume, consumption of certain foods.
Triggers of allergic rhinitis
The occurrence of allergic rhinitis is based on certain triggers, such as:
- climate change;
- certain foods, drinks and medicines;
- some infections or antibacterial agents;
- hormonal changes;
- polluted air;
Among the risk factors, which trigger or aggravate allergic rhinitis, were identified:
- bronchial asthma;
- certain cosmetics or perfumes;
- low temperatures, wind and humidity;
- other allergies already diagnosed;
- some chemical products;
- atopic eczema;
- family history of allergies;
- constant exposure to allergens.
Complications of allergic rhinitis
The problems associated with poor management of allergic rhinitis are diverse. In the absence of adequate treatment, complications include the risk of:
- frequent headache;
- inability to rest and poor sleep quality;
- affecting lifestyle;
- asthma symptoms, which may get worse;
- ear or lung infections;
- inflammation of the skin;
- the appearance of nasal polyps;
When to go to the doctor?
An allergy test is required not only when the above symptoms are manifested and they are intended to be controlled, but also when:
- shortness of breath is observed;
- prescription drugs do not improve moods;
- cough is intense and present especially in the evening;
- there are frequent asthma attacks;
- nasal secretions are yellow or green;
- there is pain in the sinus area accompanied by fever;
- daily activities are affected;
- pressure is felt in the chest;
- get tired immediately.
For an accurate diagnosis of allergic rhinitis is recommended:
- skin tests: Prick test or percussive test (most commonly), intradermal test;
- immunological blood tests or radioallergosorbent test: measures the amount of antibodies that causes allergies in the blood, known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies;
- skin, eye, nasal challenge test: performed in the presence of the allergist;
- therapeutic test, response to the administration of antihistamine medication;
- imagery tests (sinus X-rays, CT or NMR): only when there are suspicions of complications.
How can you combat allergic rhinitis?
For the treatment of allergic rhinitis it is necessary, first, to visit an allergist. The remedies are as varied as they are accessible:
Administration of medicinal products:
- general and local antihistamines (organic compounds that stop the release of histamines);
- sprays with gluco-corticosteroids (with intranasal administration), which treat inflammation;
- decongestant antileukotrienes (intranasal or systemic);
- chromone (intranasal administration);
- leukotrian receptor antagonists;
- honey is thought to be a good natural cure against allergic rhinitis, thanks to the pollen content of bees, which desensitizes the body;
- raw pollen is revitalizing and nutritious for the body and in the case of allergic rhinitis will act by reducing the level of histamine;
- hot peppers, by their capsaicin content, a substance that opens the airways;
- garlic, because it is a natural source of antihistamine and stimulates the immune system, calming the minor symptoms of rhinitis;
- ginger is used as a remedy, acting as an antihistamine for coughing, congestion and watery nasal secretion, improving them;
- chamomile can ease breathing in the case of allergic rhinitis, having anti-inflammatory properties; the simplest can be consumed in the form of tea (2 tablespoons of the plant per 200 ml of water);
- celery soothes episodes of allergic rhinitis; 30 g of the plant is administered to 12 l of water;
- sea buckthorn oil acts as an emollient of the mucosa, while hydrating the respiratory system; is preferably used in inhalations;
- mint essential oil, administered for two weeks, 3-4 drops each, in the morning and evening, can relieve symptoms;
- Ginko biloba contains substances with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which control allergic rhinitis;
- Three Stained Brothers tea is an adjuvant, casting off the sensation of suffocation or itching; it is recommended by phyto-therapists;
- with calming effect, the thyme acts as expectorant, calming cough.
- eye-flower (Euphrasia) eye drops can be given for tear that irritates the eyes;
- Onion (Allium cepa) combats irritating and abundant nasal secretions;
- ammonium chloride (Ammonium muriaticum) has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of allergic rhinitis;
- Sabadilla (Schoenocaulon officinale) has various healing properties and it is recommended when long bouts of sneezing and itching occur, as well as intense itching and severe headache;
- Calcium carbonate (Carbonic Calcination) has a high content of amino acids and minerals, which helps especially with breathing difficulties;
- pollen in homeopathic dilutions is given over a long period of time to reduce sensitivity;
- poisonous nut or Nux vomica (Strychnos nux-vome) is indicated in case of dry nasal obstruction or sneezing attacks.
- Immunocin (Indian Herbal) contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system, especially to changing seasons, preventing allergic rhinitis; the recommended dose is 2 tablets, 2-3 times/day;
- Gemoderivat blackcurrant buds is a supplement that supports the secretion of corticosteroids, helping to keep within normal limits the body's reaction to allergens; the recommendation of administration is 50 drops added in 50 ml of water or tea, 3 times/day, on an empty stomach, 15-30 minutes before the meal;
- Quercetin dietary supplement is good for strengthening the immune system and controlling allergic manifestations; indicated in the case of allergic rhinitis, these vegetable capsules contain dihydrate from floral buds of Japanese acacia; consume 1 capsule 1-2 times/day, preferably during meals;
- Anti-Allerg is a nutritional supplement to reduce symptoms based on allergies caused by environmental factors; contains exclusively extracts from traditional Asian medicinal plants; recommended administration is 1-2 capsules/day, morning and/or evening, on an empty stomach, with a glass of water;
- Aller Care helps to reduce manifestations in allergic reactions and to balance immunity.
- red light therapy treatment for pollen allergy; an analgesic is used which is believed to remove the cells responsible for the release of histamines; the aim is to reduce nasal secretions;
- specific immunotherapy (with allergenic vaccines) is based on long-term symptomatology improvement through gradual exposure to the causative allergen; is especially suitable for patients who have asthma and contribute to the construction of tolerance;
- recent studies have shown that the acupuncture technique relieves allergy symptoms, especially those of the perennial rhinitis;
- surgery is not recommended as a priority for allergic rhinitis, being rather a solution for patients who have nasal polyps and have not responded to other treatments;
- nasal washes with salt water can improve symptoms; mix 1 teaspoon of salt, one pinch of baking soda and two cups of warm distilled water and apply using a nasal irrigator;
- inhalation of steam to clean the nose of irritants, thus trying to treat the stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat; into a bowl, pour boiling water, 5 drops of essential tea tree oil and the steam emitted is inhaled for 5-10 minutes.
Allergic rhinitis prevention
The development of allergic rhinitis can be prevented by taking measures to help
- limiting exposure to allergens;
- shower done as soon as you get into the house, from outside;
- protecting the eyes by wearing sunglasses;
- dry clothes indoors, not outdoors;
- use of a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter;
- dust to be wiped with a damp cloth;
- use of air conditioning at home and in the car;
- the use of dehumidifiers;
- the use of protective covers for mattresses;
- installation of allergy filters in the ventilation system of the house;
- bed linen to be washed at least 54oC;
- keep windows closed during allergy season;
- avoiding outdoor activities in pollen seasons, especially on hot and dry days;
- weekly pet washing.
Did you know that…?
- Once the diagnosis is given, the options for allergic rhinitis require avoiding, eliminating and decreasing exposure to irritants, because there is no effective treatment to effectively cure the symptoms?
- 8 specific types of food are responsible for 90% of food allergies: eggs, milk, nuts, nuts, soybeans, shellfish, wheat and fish?
- Although it is also called hay fever, it is not a trigger for the condition? The link with hay occurred because of an early (and incorrect) theory that the symptoms were caused by the smell of new hay.
- Symptoms of allergic rhinitis can start at any age, at anyone, but occur most often in people between 20 and 40 years of age?
- Dr. John Bostock (1773-1846) is the first person to accurately describe allergic rhinitis and in 1819 he considered it as an object of study?
- Pollen was identified as the leading cause of allergies only in 1858, by Charles H. Blackley?
- In the 1860s, allergies were associated almost exclusively with the elite of society and were therefore considered an aristocratic disease of the rich?
- It was thought that people of Anglo-Saxon origin were most predisposed to hay fever? Especially if they were men.
- Allergic rhinitis is the type of allergy that affects the largest number of people in Western countries, between 10 and 30% of people being affected in a year?