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.
There are two classifications of allergic rhinitis. Both are caused by allergens, which are what causes allergies. When a person has an allergy, the body reacts to defend itself, thus the allergic rhinitis.
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. Because this is seasonal, it does not affect you the whole year, only on certain seasons.
Perennial, on the other hand, is year round. 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.
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.
To treat allergic rhinitis, the patient has three options: 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 allergy medicines like antihistamines to control the symptoms. You may be prescribed pills, eye drops or a nasal spray by the medical professional you saw.
Immunotherapy or allergy shots require regular injections 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.
Allergic rhinitis is not something to be afraid of. Fortunately, in a tropical country like the Philippines, seasonal rhinitis is less likely to occur due to the lack of allergens that can cause it. If you suspect that you have allergic rhinitis, seek medical attention to get some immediate relief.