Allergic Rhinitis: How to Control the Symptoms
Ever notice your body overreacting to specific things like pollen, fur, and dust? Then you might have allergic rhinitis.
What is allergic rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis is an allergic response to environmental triggers that normally do not cause problems to other people. The immune system views these harmless allergens as dangerous substances that infest the body, making the system flood our bloodstream with chemicals like histamine and leukotrienes that inflame the lining of our nasal passages, sinuses, and eyelids.
There are two types: seasonal and perennial.
Seasonal allergies happen only during the time of the year in which flowering plants pollenate. Pollen is a powdery substance that comes from flowering plants that is easily carried through the air and inhaled. Meanwhile, perennial allergies occur year-round and are often caused by dust mites, pet hair and dander, or mold.
What kind of symptoms should I look out for?
Common symptoms include:
- Stuffy and runny nose
- Itchy throat and coughing
- Prolonged sneezing
- Red, itchy, and watery eyes
- Ear pressure
- Headaches or facial pain around the forehead and temples
- Loss of smell
How can I keep these symptoms under control?
Antihistamines: These medications are always at top of mind when it comes to allergies. Basically, they work by preventing your body from producing histamine. They can help put a stop to sneezes, itches, and a runny nose, however, they can’t relieve every symptom. Antihistamines come in many forms, like tablets, capsules, nasal sprays, and eye drops. Some popular over-the-counter antihistamines are cetirizine, fexofenadine, and loratadine.
Decongestants: This type of medicine can give short-term comfort to nasal congestion, which is a symptom of allergic rhinitis. They essentially work by decreasing the swelling of the blood vessels in your nose, which helps open the airways. One can get products like pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine as tablets or pills, or sprays like oxymetazoline and phenylephrine.
Though, it’s important to note that decongestants must only be used for a short period of time, usually no longer than three days. Using them for more than that can cause a rebound effect, worsening your symptoms.
Intranasal Steroids: These are anti-inflammatory medicines that you spray into your nose. These should be used 1 to 2 weeks before you think your symptoms will start to show up since its effects can take a few days to work. Some of the most common nasal sprays include triamcinolone and fluticasone. Side effects are minimal and include dryness and irritation around the nose and an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
Air Purifiers: If you think you’re safe from outdoor allergens, think again. Indoor air is often twice as polluted, thanks to dust, mold, and chemicals that collect in an enclosed space over time. That’s why air purifiers can be useful for those with allergies as they filter a majority of aggravating air particulates in any room.
Though there is no official recommendation, several studies and medical professionals point to its effectiveness. So if you’re experiencing allergy symptoms inside the house, especially now that we’re spending all of our time indoors, an air purifier may help diminish your symptoms. Just make sure to determine the size of your room and your specific filtration needs for maximum effectiveness.
With these preventative steps and measures, you can avoid a lot of the sneezy, itchy, and congested symptoms. The best way to keep them in check is to avoid the things that will likely trigger them. Cut down potential allergens by keeping yourself and surroundings clean.
If symptoms persist, consult with your health professional so they can diagnose you more accurately and prescribe you medications.