Allergic rhinitis, also known as "hay fever", is quite possibly the most common disease experienced by the allergy sufferer. About 20% of the world's population has been diagnosed with allergic rhinitis and approximately $ 5.3 billion are spent every year on the treatment of this disease. Allergic rhinitis is not fatal, but it does significantly decrease the quality of life to those who suffer from it.
Allergic rhinitis can be either seasonal or perennial. It is also believed to be hereditary, so an assessment of family history of allergies may be performed, along with a physical examination during diagnosis.
Allergic rhinitis is basically the swelling and inflammation of the nasal passages. This is where the "clogged" feeling comes from during an allergic reaction. It is caused by the release of histamines in the nose as a reaction to allergens. Some symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis are sneezing, a clear discharge from the nose, watery eyes, itching of the nose, throat and eyes, congestion, ear pressure, nose bleeds and fatigue. Other symptoms can occur, depending on the severity of the allergy.
Allergic rhinitis affects a large percentage of people all over the world. The onset of allergic rhinitis is usually experienced in childhood or early adolescence, but can be experienced at any time in life. In children, allergic rhinitis is more common in boys than in girls; however, it is not any more common in either gender in adulthood. Allergic rhinitis is not life threatening, but it can have a drastic negative effect on the quality of life. Other disorders, such as asthma and otitis media (ear infections). Sleep disorders, such as apnea and generalized fatigue also often accompanies the symptoms of allergic rhinitis, which can make life much less enjoyable for the allergy sufferer.
There are many factors that trigger the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. As previously prescribed, allergic rhinitis can be either perennial or seasonal. Dust mites, pet dander, mold and cockroaches can cause these symptoms to persist year round. Grass and ragweed pollens are the most prevalent of the seasonal allergy triggers. Some plants require insects for pollination. These plants are not seasonal. Only plants that rely strictly on airborne pollination trigger allergic reactions.
Allergic rhinitis can be fairly easily diagnosed by a physician. The physician may ask the patient about past family medical history before beginning a physical examination. A past history of allergies may indicate that the patient is at a higher risk for developing allergies. After that, the physician will perform a physical examination. Often, when an individual is suffering from allergic rhinitis, the lining of the nose will be pale and swollen. The whites of the eyes may be red and irritated and the eyelids may be swollen. Allergic shiners, or dark circles under the eyes are also indicators of allergies. A crease in the middle of the nose may also be present, which has been named the "allergic salute". This is caused by rubbing or pushing up from beneoth the nose with the palm of the hand. Skin testing may be done to determine a positive diagnosis.
There are many products on the market that can be used to treat the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. There is no cure for this disease, but if properly treated, the symptoms can be controlled. Antihistamines, nasal sprays and nasal decongestants are the most common treatment for the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Other options are the allergy shots, which works by exposing the immune system to small doses of allergens. This strengthens the immune system and thus reduces the symptoms of that allergy. Usually this form of treatment is only used when nothing else has proved affective.