What Is Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis is the diagnosis given to a collection of respiratory symptoms that result from exposure to an allergen. Though most commonly triggered by triggers such as dander or pollen, allergic rhinitis can, in some cases, result from food allergies.
There is a non-allergic variant, as well. Those with non-allergic rhinitis react to irritants in an environment, such as smoke.
It can be easy to confuse allergic rhinitis with other respiratory ailments. For example, allergic rhinitis may resemble sinusitis, in some ways, but these are very different conditions.
Sinusitis is an infection of the sinus cavities caused by a virus or a bacteria and comes in acute and chronic forms. Allergic rhinitis results from the release of histamines in the body in response to an allergen trigger.
Types of Allergic Rhinitis
There are two main types of allergic rhinitis that AllerVie can treat: perennial allergic rhinitis and seasonal allergic rhinitis.
Seasonal rhinitis, often referred to as ‘hay fever’, occurs during the time of year when a certain trigger, such as ragweed, is present in the patient’s environment.
Perennial rhinitis happens throughout the year and is triggered by constants in an environment, such as pet dander or dust mites.
Risk Factors for Allergic Rhinitis
The primary cause of most cases of allergic rhinitis is inhaling tiny particles of an airborne allergen. In some cases, ingesting a food allergen can cause allergic rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis causes can include:
- Dust mites
Some patients are at a higher risk of developing allergic rhinitis, including:
- Patients with asthma or eczema
- Patients with a parental history of rhinitis
- Obese patients
- Patients exposed to parental smoking
- Patients exposed to pets and animals
- Atopic patients with more than one allergy
Non-allergic rhinitis causes can include cigarette smoke and pollution.
How Is Allergic Rhinitis Diagnosed?
Diagnosing allergic rhinitis is a multi-step process and can involve a number of medical professionals, including a GP and an allergist. The diagnostic process typically involves a physical exam, a thorough medical history and various tests.
The two most common tests used to test for allergic rhinitis are skin tests and the IgE antibody test. The skin test involves exposing an area of the skin to an allergen, then pricking it and waiting to see if the skin has a reaction.
An IgE antibody test involves taking a blood sample from the patient. The patient’s blood is then exposed to allergens in a laboratory; the blood is then tested to see if its levels of IgE antibodies have increased in response to the allergy trigger.
Treatments for Allergic Rhinitis
Treatment for allergic rhinitis involves a number of interventions, including lifestyle and environmental changes done in tandem with medications. Patients should work closely with their allergist to develop a treatment plan that works specifically for their needs.
A primary line of defense against allergic rhinitis involves implementing control and prevention measures in a patient’s environment. For example, if a patient is allergic to dust mites, they will need to maintain their home and work environments to limit their exposure to the allergen.
In addition to environmental changes, doctors may also recommend any of the following medications to treat allergic rhinitis:
- Eye drops
- Nasal Sprays
Home therapies such as probiotics and herbal extracts may have anecdotal success, but should only supplement and not replace a medical plan of intervention. It is recommended that patients adhere to their allergic rhinitis treatment guidelines in order to achieve the best results.
Can Allergic Rhinitis Be Prevented?
The best line of defense against any allergic reaction is to limit patient exposure to the allergy trigger. It is not possible to prevent allergic rhinitis entirely, but lifestyle changes and changes to one’s environment can control and limit exposure to allergens.
Patients who have seasonal allergies and cannot avoid exposure to allergens can take certain medications on a daily basis to reduce their eventual symptoms. The use of any medications used to prevent allergic rhinitis should be done in close consultation with a physician or allergist.