Overview of Rhinitis
Allergy Runny Nose
Rhinitis is defined as inflammation of the nose. Symptoms will typically include: runny nose, nasal itching, congestion, post-nasal drip and sneezing. There are three categories of rhinitis, such as allergic, non-allergic and mixed. Allergic rhinitis, is caused by allergens, and can be seasonal or perennial. Non-allergic rhinitis is not caused by allergens, but caused by smoke, medications, chemicals or other irritating conditions. All three types of rhinitis have the same symptoms and treatments, they just have different causes. Treatment for rhinitis includes avoiding the allergen, medication, and irrigating the nasal passages.
Symptoms of Rhinitis
Symptoms of rhinitis typically include postnasal drip, stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, sore throat, headaches, or hives. Symptoms are typically only seen in adults and last year-round. These symptoms typically look a lot like regular allergies and hay fever. You may also have severe side effects from treatment, which may include drowsiness, nasal dryness, or nosebleeds. In allergic rhinitis, you will usually feel at least one of the symptoms almost immediately after exposure.
Causes of Rhinitis
In allergic rhinitis, an allergen has triggered the allergies. Pollen is the number one cause of allergic rhinitis, but will likely change with the seasons. In non-allergic rhinitis, the cause is unknown, but can be attributed to outdoor pollutions, such as smoke, chemicals, or other irritating conditions. In some cases, a medication can also trigger a non-allergic rhinitis flair up.
Risk Factors of Rhinitis
Some common risk factors of rhinitis are a history of allergies in your family, having asthma, or atopic eczema. There are many external risk factors that may also make your symptoms worse, such as cold temperatures, cigarette smoke, air pollution, perfumes, etc.
Complications of Rhinitis
Rhinitis is usually paired with other symptoms. Sinusitis is the inflammation of the tissue in the sinuses. Eustachian tube dysfunction may also occur. Other symptoms may flare up such as ear infections, loss of smell, sleep apnea, or asthma. When a trigger causes a non-allergic rhinitis flair up, then asthma symptoms will typically follow. You may also notice an increase in absences from school or work because of reduced productivity.
Prevention of Rhinitis
The best method to prevention is avoidance. If you are unsure of what your trigger is, ask your allergist about administering an allergy test. Once you know what exactly to avoid, then you will be able to prevent flair ups. Non-allergic rhinitis cannot be cured, but over-the-counter or prescription medications may help. If you are a smoker, then you should quit smoking and not allow smoking to be in your home. In some cases, wood-burning stoves or fireplaces may cause symptoms. If your medication is cause the non-allergic reaction, ask your allergist about a substitute. Avoid cleaners and scented products.
In allergic rhinitis, it is important to keep your home as allergen free as possible. This can be done by bathing your animals twice per week to minimize dander, keeping the air filter clean, and removing carpet from the home. If you have a strong allergy to pollen, then you will want to stay indoors as much as possible, and to shower immediately after coming inside. If you have to do yardwork, then keep your face covered.
Diagnosis of Rhinitis
Since the three types of rhinitis are so similar, your allergist may recommend a blood or skin test. Through these tests, the allergist will be able to see any allergies that may be causing the symptoms. If there are no allergens shown in the test, then an environmental irritant is the cause.
Triggers of Rhinitis
Triggers can be either allergic or non-allergic. It is important to know whether your triggers are allergic or non-allergic so you can begin to avoid them. In allergic triggers, your allergist can test for which ones specifically cause a reaction. In some people, it may be something unavoidable, such as pollen. In non-allergic, the trigger can be anything in the environment, from smoke to pollution.
Treatment of Rhinitis
The best treatment is to avoid the trigger. While this may be impossible if it is present in your workplace, you will have to treat the symptoms. Over-the-counter or prescription medication may be helpful. Medicines such as an antihistamine, decongestant, eye drops, or nasal sprays can help to reduce symptoms. Before choosing a medication, you will want to speak with your allergist first to make sure that it is good for the period of time that you will need it and that it will not interfere with other medications or health problems that you have. Your allergist may also recommend a nasal irrigation, which means that you will rinse your nostrils once a day with salt water. This can be done with a bulb syringe, bottle sprayer, or neti pot.
In allergic rhinitis, your allergist may recommend immunotherapy. If you have severe allergic reactions, this is a great option to control your symptoms. This can be administered through injections or through tablets under your tongue. This immunotherapy works by slowing introducing your body to the allergen and is given a little more each time. Over a period of time, your body will get used to the allergen and will no longer have a reaction.
Summary of Rhinitis
Rhinitis can happen in three different ways including allergic, non-allergic, or a combination of the two. To prevent severe symptoms, ask your allergist to perform an allergy test to see what exactly the triggers are. This test is only good to show allergic rhinitis. However, if a trigger appears in the allergy test, then you can rule out non-allergic rhinitis for the most part. While the best form of treatment is to avoid the trigger, there are also a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications available to help treat symptoms. Speak with your allergist about the best medications for you and your symptoms. Symptoms typically resemble those of hay fever, in which you will have a stuffy nose, cough, sore throat, etc. If your symptoms are bad enough, the allergist may recommend going through immunotherapy, in which your body is slowly introduced to the allergen and will become desensitized to it.