More Information About Allergic Rhinitis

What is allergic rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever), is an inflammation of the nasal passages caused by an allergic reaction that occurs when the immune system mistakes a usually harmless substance for an invader. The substance that triggers the reaction is called an allergen. The most common allergens that affect people year-round are dust mites, animal dander and spores from fungi or mold. Seasonal allergic rhinitis triggers include pollen from grasses, trees and weeds and spores from fungi or mold.

What causes allergic rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis can result from specific genes acquired from one’s parents. Though most common in children, allergies can occur at any age.

What are the symptoms?

Allergic rhinitis symptoms can include itchy or runny nose, sneezing, coughing from post-nasal drip and/or scratchy throat.

How do you treat allergic rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis can be treated by:

  • Allergen avoidance and/or reducing exposure
  • Antihistamines, which block the “histamines” produced as part of the immune response to allergens
  • Nasal corticosteroid sprays to reduce inflammation
  • Nasal decongestants, which clear congestion in the sinuses
  • Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, which desensitizes a person to an allergen by administering increasingly higher doses of an allergen over time

Can allergic rhinitis be prevented?

There is a genetic predisposition for allergic rhinitis, therefore it cannot be prevented. Allergic reactions to all allergens can be prevented by medication, immunotherapy or by avoiding contact with the allergen.

Who is at risk?

People who have inherited the genetic tendency for allergies are most at risk for developing them. Other risk factors include exposure to infectious diseases in early childhood, environmental pollution and dietary changes.

To find out more about allergic rhinitis and other allergies:

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America:

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology:

American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology:

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