Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic Rhinitis 

Up to 20 percent of Singaporeans are estimated to suffer from allergic rhinitis (AR), an inflammatory condition denoted by nasal congestions which are triggeredwhen the body comes into contact with allergens. The word “rhinitis “ refers to the inflammation of the nasal passages which can cause symptoms, including nasal congestion, runny nose, and sneezing.

People first develop symptoms in the phase of life between childhood and adulthood. However, symptoms are often more severe in children and adults in their 30s and 40s. The severity of the symptoms may vary throughout a person’s life as some go through periods where they have no symptoms.

Short-term rhinitis flare-ups are usually caused by viral infections of the respiratory tract such as the common cold. Allergic rhinitis is also caused by an allergic reactionto things in the surrounding air. Chronic rhinitis is typically brought on by allergies, although it can also be brought on by certain medical conditions, overuse of certain drugs, and other unknown factors.

For thousands, allergic rhinitis is a lifelong condition that gets worse over time. Fortunately, symptoms may frequently be managed with a mix of medications, immunotherapy, and environmental measures.

Causes

Allergens, which are tiny airborne particles, induce allergic rhinitis by triggering a nasal reaction, causing an allergic reaction. These particles can also cause reactions in the lungs (asthma) and eyes (allergic conjunctives) for some people. 

These reactions resultfrom the activation of two types of inflammatory cells in the body called basophils and mast cells. Natural compounds like histamine, which induce symptoms like runny nose, nasal congestion, and itching, are produced by these cells.

There are two types of allergic rhinitis: seasonal (which occurs during specific seasons) or perennial (occurring year-round). 

  • Seasonal AR are commonly caused by pollens, trees, grasses, and weeds 
  • Perennial AR are caused by fungi, moulds, animal dander, and cockroaches. This specific allergy tends to be more difficult to treat. 

Common signs and symptoms

Symptoms may vary from person to person.Even though the term “rhinitis” refers to only nasal symptoms, it may affect other areas such as the eyes, throat, and ears which would affect one’s sleep.

  • Throat and ears – Itching of the throat and ears, congestion, and sore throat 
  • Eyes – itchy, red and watery eyes
  • Nose – nose congestion, postnatal drip, taste loss, pressure or pain in the face, sneezing, nasal itching, and watery or clogged nasal discharge.

Allergic Rhinitis Diagnosis

By performing a physical examination and evaluating your symptoms, your doctor can determine if you have allergic rhinitis. The correct diagnosis and the root cause can be determined by medical tests.

There are several ways to find the allergens and other triggers that cause allergic rhinitis: 

  • Remembering your location and activities just before your symptoms appeared (For example, spending time outside or around animals)
  • Taking note of the season in which you first experienced symptoms
  • Thoroughly examining the environs at home, at work, and at school for potential allergens.

If your symptoms are not adequately controlled by drugs or if it unclear what is causing your symptoms, your doctor may advise skin testing. An allergist will do this by applying a slight amount of various allergens to your skin and watch to see which ones result in a reaction. Although not required, blood tests are also offered.

Treatment

In addition to medication therapy, avoiding exposure to allergens and other triggers is part of the treatment for allergic rhinitis. This combined strategy can effectively reduce symptoms in the majority of persons.

There are numerous medication groups that can treat the inflammation that contribute to allergic rhinitis’s symptoms. A few of the approaches include nasal irrigation, allergy shots, or avoiding the triggers.

  • Avoiding the triggers – For instance, you can avoid spending a lot of time in a relative’s home if the relative has pets that make you sneeze and have itchy eyes. Alternatively, taking antihistamine a few hours prior might help ease the symptoms
  • Glucocorticoid nasal spraysNasal glucocorticoids are steroids delivered by a nasal spray and is the first line treatment for the symptoms for allergic rhinitis. 
  • AntihistaminesAntihistamines relieve symptoms such as itching, sneezing, and runny nose.

The prevalent disorder of allergic rhinitis can have a serious negative effect on a patient’s quality of life. Through a thorough history and physical examination, the diagnosis is made. Confirming that underlying allergies are the source of the rhinitis typically involves additional diagnostic testing involving skin-prick tests or allergen-specific tests.  The mainstays of treatment for the disorder are intranasal corticosteroids and second-generation oral antihistamines. In some situations, allergy immunotherapy as well as other drugs like decongestants and oral corticosteroids may be helpful. Recognising and managing allergic rhinitis early can prevent serious complication and significantly improve one’s quality of life.

If you have any medical questions related to Allergic Rhinitis, consult your family doctor via AllyTele