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.
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.
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.
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.