Has your nose been feeling clogged and stuffy for days? Eyes been watery? You’ve taken medicine for cough and colds, which have at least lessened the severity of the symptoms. However, for some unknown reason, the runny nose, the itchy throat and watery eyes are still there! Maybe you have hay fever or maybe you have perennial allergic rhinitis? What’s the difference? Let’s find out.
Causes and Seasons
Allergic rhinitis and hay fever both present themselves similarly to the common cold. Unfortunately, because it is not caused by a virus, it cannot be treated by the same medications used to treat cough and colds.
There are two classifications of allergic rhinitis. Both are caused by allergens, which causes all types of allergies. When a person has an allergy, the body reacts to defend itself, thus creating different types of reactions such as a stuffy nose and watery eyes.
Seasonal allergic rhinitis, or hay fever as it is more commonly known, is caused by pollen from trees, plants, flowers, weeds and spores from fungi and molds. Some of these trees are pine, cedar and willow. As for the plants, some of the most common culprits are ragweed, sorrel and mulberry, and carabao grass. Because this is seasonal, it does not affect you the whole year, only on certain seasons. In countries that have four seasons, this is usually during spring when plants are in full bloom. In tropical countries like the Philippines, hay fever season is usually during the wet months when the wind from the rains carries the pollen with it to different places, including inside your home.
Perennial, on the other hand, is year round. This means that there really is no perennial allergic rhinitis season. Instead, it can occur anytime. It is caused by a variety of allergens which can be found anywhere on a daily basis. These are dust mites, cockroaches, animal dander, fungi and molds.
The primary symptoms to look out for in allergic rhinitis (whether it is perennial or seasonal) affect mainly the eyes, and nose.
When it comes to the nasal area, person with rhinitis will experience itchy nose, runny nose with a clear discharge, nasal congestion, inability to taste or smell and sneezing. With the eyes, one would have watery, red eyes, light sensitivity and swollen eyelids. You would also develop sore throat, mouth breathing (from the stuffy nose), headaches and ear popping.
There are also some behavioral symptoms to look out for such as fatigue, irritability, and rubbing the nose in an upward motion.
You will typically experience one or more of these symptoms immediate after being exposed to the allergen. Some symptoms, such as recurrent headaches and fatigue, may only be experienced after long-time exposure to allergens.
While it contains the word “fever,” fever is not a symptom of either hay fever or perennial allergic rhinitis.
Most cases of allergic rhinitis, whether seasonal or perennial, are mild and can be treated with over-the-counter antihistamines.
For some people, however, the allergic rhinitis can be so persistent that it interferes with their daily lives, even causing some to lose sleep.
For those who wish to narrow down the cause or causes of their allergic rhinitis, you can consult with a physician who can isolate the specific causes. Knowing exactly what is triggering your allergies can help you prevent them or seek better treatment against them.
Upon arrival at the medical professional’s office, the doctor will examine you and look through your family’s medical history. He or she will ask you several questions such as if you’ve noticed anything that causes your allergies and whether these symptoms happen at a specific place or time. The doctor may want to examine your nose’s insides to check for inflammation of the sinuses and nasal polyps. He or she may refer you to a specialist to do an allergy testing like a skin patch or skin prick test to zoom in to what is the specific trigger of your allergic rhinitis. Additional tests that a doctor may requests are nasal endoscopy, nasal inspiratory flow test and computerized tomography.
There are three allergic rhinitis treatment options available for those who want to be permanently cured of their allergies: environmental control, medicinal management and immunotherapy.
Environmental control required the patient to avoid as much as possible the allergens causing the symptoms. For perennial allergic rhinitis, this be done by regularly cleaning the house from top to bottom to remove dust, animal dander or pollen. For hay fever, simply stay inside when the pollen count is high outside.
Medicinal management requires the patient to take over-the-counter medicine for allergic rhinitis like antihistamines to control the symptoms.
Some over-the-counter antihistamine you can take include:
You may be prescribed pills, eye drops, or a nasal spray by the medical professional you consulted.
Immunotherapy or allergy shots require regular injections of a lower dose or form of the allergen to get your body to get your body to desensitize against the allergen. The treatment is done over the course of several months with therapy for 3-5 years.
Stop the symptoms from occurring by avoiding the allergens that are causing the allergy. If unavoidable, ask your doctor for a prescription to help ease the symptoms.
There are also some home remedies and preventative measures you can do to control your environmental situation.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies or hay fever, you can try using the air conditioner instead of opening your windows to prevent pollen from entering your home. Try looking for an air conditioning filter that is specially made for allergies that will also help with your symptoms.
Use dehumidifiers or a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to help control your allergies whenever you’re indoors. HEPA filters are especially useful against allergens like dust mites, animal dander, and spores. If you’re allergic to dust mites, wash your sheets and blankets in water that’s hotter than 54.4°C.
Allergic rhinitis is not something to be afraid of. If you suspect that you have allergic rhinitis, seek medical attention to learn how you can better manage your allergies.
For immediate relief against the symptoms of allergic rhinitis, you can head to the nearest The Generics Pharmacy branch for an over-the-counter medicine to cure your allergic rhinitis.