What are allergy shiners

Allergic rhinitis is caused by the immune system reacting to an allergen as if it were harmful.

This results in cells releasing a number of chemicals that cause the inside layer of your nose (the mucous membrane) to become swollen and too much mucus to be produced.

Common allergens that cause allergic rhinitis include pollen (this type of allergic rhinitis is known as hay fever), as well as mould spores, home dust mites, and flakes of skin or droplets of urine or saliva from certain animals.

Find out more about the causes of allergic rhinitis

Treating and preventing allergic rhinitis

It’s hard to completely avoid potential allergens, but you can take steps to reduce exposure to a specific allergen you know or suspect is triggering your allergic rhinitis.

This will assist improve your symptoms.

If your condition is mild, you can also assist reduce the symptoms by taking over-the-counter medications, such as non-sedating antihistamines, and by regularly rinsing your nasal passages with a salt water solution to hold your nose free of irritants.

See a GP for advice if you own tried taking these steps and they own not helped.

They may prescribe a stronger medication, such as a nasal spray containing corticosteroids.

Non-allergic rhinitis

Not every cases of rhinitis are caused by an allergic reaction.

Some cases are the result of:

  1. oversensitive blood vessels in the nose
  2. an infection, such as the common cold
  3. overuse of nasal decongestants

This type of rhinitis is known as non-allergic rhinitis.

Sheet final reviewed: 29 April 2019
Next review due: 29 April 2022

How can you assist prevent seasonal allergies?

Seasonal allergies, such as hay fever, are often caused by exposure to pollen.

You can reduce your exposure to pollen by:

  1. Rinsing your eyes with cool water or saline eyedrops to remove clinging pollen after you come indoors.
  2. Limiting the time you spend exterior when pollen counts are high (during midday and afternoon).
  3. Keeping your home and car windows closed.
  4. Wearing a pollen mask or dust mask if you need to mow the lawn.
  5. Limiting your mowing tasks if you can.
  6. Taking a shower and changing your clothes after you work or frolic outside.

What causes allergic rhinitis?

The most common triggers for people with allergic rhinitis are pollen, dust mite, pet and mould allergens.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is generally triggered by wind-borne pollen from trees, grass and weeds.

Early spring symptoms point to tree pollen, while nasal allergy in tardy spring and summer indicates that grass and weed pollens are the culprits. And overlapping the grass season is the weed pollen season, which generally starts in tardy spring and extends through to the finish of summer.

In New Zealand the seasons are not extremely distinct and they vary throughout the country because of the diverse climates. The season starts about one month earlier at the top of the North Island than the bottom of the South Island. Thus the hay fever season is not extremely well defined.

Allergic rhinitis that persists year-round (perennial allergic rhinitis) is generally caused by home dust mites, pets, or mould.

People with allergic rhinitis are often allergic to more than one allergen, such as dust mite and pollen, so may suffer from symptoms for months on finish or every year round.

Irritants such as strong perfumes and tobacco smoke can aggravate this condition.

Foods do not frolic as large a role as had been thought in the past.

Non-allergic rhinitis

Not every cases of rhinitis are caused by an allergic reaction.

Some cases are the result of:

  1. oversensitive blood vessels in the nose
  2. an infection, such as the common cold
  3. overuse of nasal decongestants

This type of rhinitis is known as non-allergic rhinitis.

Sheet final reviewed: 29 April 2019
Next review due: 29 April 2022

What is allergic rhinitis?

Hay fever is the common name to describe allergic rhinitis and involves a recurrent runny, stuffy, itchy nose, and frequent sneezing.

It can also affect your eyes, sinuses, throat and ears.

Love any other allergy, allergic rhinitis is an inappropriate immune system response to an allergen – most commonly home dust mite, pet, pollen and mould. The allergen comes into contact with the sensitive, moist lining in your nose and sinuses and sets off the allergic response.

Hay fever is often considered a nuisance rather than a major disease and most people will self-treat. However, recent studies own revealed that hay fever has a huge impact on quality of life.

What is the impact?

About 20 per cent of the general population suffers from rhinitis.

Of these people, about one third develops problems before the age of 10.

The overall burden of allergic rhinitis is better understood when you consider that 50 per cent of patients experience symptoms for more than four months per year and that 20 per cent own symptoms for at least nine months per year.

Those affected by hay fever suffer more frequent and prolonged sinus infection, and for those who also own red, itchy eyes, there is the risk of developing infective conjunctivitis due to frequent rubbing.

Persistent symptoms and poor quality sleep can result in lethargy, poor concentration and behavioural changes and impact on learning in young children.
Allergic rhinitis may predispose people to obstructive sleep apnoea, due to the upper airways collapsing during sleep.

This results in reduced airflow, a drop in oxygen levels and disturbed sleep.

Patients with allergic rhinitis also suffer from more frequent and prolonged respiratory infections, and asthma has been shown to be more hard to control unless allergic rhinitis is also managed.

What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies?

Symptoms of seasonal allergies include:

  1. Sore throat or coughing.
  2. Runny, stuffy, or itchy nose.
  3. Itchy, watery eyes.
  4. Sneezing.
  5. Drainage from the nose below the back of the throat (post-nasal drip).
  6. Temporary loss of smell.
  7. Headache and fatigue.
  8. Dark circles under the eyes («allergic shiners»).
  9. Snoring.

What is the link between allergic rhinitis and asthma?

Allergic rhinitis has been found to be an extremely common trigger for asthma in both children and adults.

Allergic rhinitis can also exacerbate asthma, and it can make the diagnosis of asthma more difficult.

Around 80 per cent of people with asthma suffer from allergic rhinitis, and around one in four with allergic rhinitis has asthma.

There is now extremely excellent evidence to support the thought that asthmatics who glance after their upper airways well need less asthma medication and fewer hospital or GP visits.

When treating both asthma and allergic rhinitis, the first step is to discover out the cause of your problem. Once the causes own been identified, management regimes can be put into put to minimise the impact of the allergy, and this then reduces the need for medication.

How do you diagnose allergic rhinitis?

Your doctor will confirm the specific allergens causing your rhinitis by taking a finish symptom history, doing a physical examination, and performing skin prick tests.

When does allergic rhinitis develop?

Allergic rhinitis typically develops in childhood.

It is part of what we call the Allergic March, where children first develop eczema in infancy, sometimes followed by food allergy, and then go on to develop allergic rhinitis and then asthma.

The onset of dust mite allergy occurs often by the age of two, with grass pollen allergy beginning around three to four years of age. Tree pollen allergy develops from about seven years of age.

It is not unusual to develop hay fever during adulthood. It can take as few as two to three seasons to become sensitised to pollen, but it depends on the individual.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis can be any combination of itching in the back of the throat, eyes or nose, sneezing, runny eyes or nose, and blocked nose.

A person may own any or every of the following:

  1. nasal voice because of blocked nasal passages
  2. snoring
  3. watery discharge from the nose every the time, occasionally or during certain seasons of the year
  4. reddened, pebbly lining in the lower eyelids
  5. dizziness or nausea related to ear problems
  6. frequent throat-clearing
  7. a horizontal crease across the nose as a result of constant rubbing
  8. bouts of sneezing, especially in the morning
  9. stuffy nose every the time or during specific seasons
  10. repeated nosebleeds
  11. rabbit-like movements of the nose
  12. chronic freezing without much fever
  13. breathing through the mouth
  14. headaches because of pressure from inside the nose
  15. frequent earaches, fullness in the ear, ear infections or hearing loss
  16. dark circles under the eyes as a result of pressure from blocked nasal passages on the little blood vessels.

    Also known as "allergic shiners".

How is allergic rhinitis treated?

It is useful to identify your triggers and attempt and avoid them. This can be difficult.

Pets: Make certain you hold it exterior and never let it in the bedroom. It is never simple trying to decide on a new home for a pet, but in some cases this might be the best option. Even after you own removed your pet from your home, the allergens remain in furnishings for endless periods afterwards and can cause symptoms. You will need to thoroughly clean your walls, floors and carpets to remove the allergen.

Dust mites: Home dust mite reduction measures include mite-proof covers for the mattress, duvet and pillows.

Removing items that collect dust from the bedroom will assist. A excellent quality vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter for the exhaust air is essential to ensure that allergen is not disseminated in the atmosphere.

What are allergy shiners

Bedding should be washed frequently in water hotter than 55ºC. If you own soft toys, freeze them overnight and air in the sun.

Pollen: It is hard to avoid pollen, however you can avoid going exterior when pollen counts are high. The quantity of pollen in the air is highest:
• In the morning
• Outside
• On windy days
• After a thunderstorm

See our pollen calendar for more information.


Non-sedating antihistamine tablets or liquid are useful in alleviating some of the symptoms of rhinitis.

They are helpful in controlling sneezing, itching and a runny nose, but are ineffective in relieving nasal blockage. They can be used alone or in combination with other medications, such as nasal sprays.

Corticosteroid (anti-inflammatory) nasal sprays reduce the inflammation in the lining of the nose. They work best when used in a preventative manner, just love preventers for asthma. For example, they may be used for weeks or months at a time during an allergy season. Enquire your doctor about the appropriate medication for your condition.

Decongestant nasal sprays can be used to unblock the nose, but should not be used for more than a few days at a time.

Prolonged use may result in worsening of the nasal congestion.

Eye drops: The eye problems that sometimes happen with allergic rhinitis may not always reply to the above medications. Eye drops containing decongestants alone or in combination with antihistamine are available for mild to moderate eye problems. Eye irritation is one side effect. Prolonged use of decongestant eye drops can also cause rebound worsening when stopped.

What are allergy shiners

Some brands of eye drops can be used preventatively and are safe to use for prolonged periods — enquire your doctor for more specific information.

Saline washes may assist to clear your nose and soothe the lining of your nose. These are available from most pharmacies.

Desensitisation, or immunotherapy, is used to 'turn off' the abnormal response of the immune system to an allergen if medication does not work. It is mainly used to relieve the symptoms of hay fever and allergic asthma to pollen, mould, home dust mite and pet allergen, as well as to control severe reactions to insect stings.

To start, a extremely dilute dose of the substance you are allergic to is istered by injection once or twice a week.

This dose is gradually built up over three to four months on average, until a maintenance dose is achieved. Shots are then given monthly for at least three years.

This method of treatment is the only one that deals with the underlying cause of allergic rhinitis.

What are allergy shiners

Not everyone benefits from treatment, however the vast majority of patients show at least some degree of improvement. Enquire your allergy specialist about whether you are a excellent candidate for immunotherapy.

Sublingual immunotherapy is another method, where drops of the allergen solution are taken under the tongue. It is not widely used exterior of Europe.

This information is available as a fact sheet.

December 2008

This fact sheet is based on information available at the time of going to print but may be subject to change.

It is significant to remember that we are every diverse and individual cases require individual medical attention.

What are allergy shiners

Please be guided by your GP or specialist.

Acknowledgments: We would love to Associate Professor Rohan Ameratunga, Clinical Immunologist, Auckland Hospital, for assistance in writing this information. This fact sheet is also based on information provided by the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy and the National Asthma Council Australia.

Topic Overview

Seasonal allergies happen at the same time of the year every year, if you continue to live in the same part of the country. Hay fever (also called allergic rhinitis) is the most common seasonal allergy.

How can you treat seasonal allergies?

The following home treatment measures may assist relieve your symptoms:

  • Clean the inside of your nose with salt water to clear a stuffy nose.
  • Use a vaporizer or humidifier in the bedroom and take boiling showers to assist clear a stuffy nose.
  • If your nose is red and raw from rubbing, put petroleum jelly on the sore area.
  • Use over-the-counter allergy medicine to assist your symptoms.

    Be safe with medicines. Read and follow every instructions on the label.

    1. For itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; or a runny, itchy nose, attempt a non-sedating over-the-counter antihistamine, love fexofenadine (such as Allegra) or loratadine (such as Claritin). Older antihistamines, love chlorpheniramine (such as Chlor-Tripolon) and diphenhydramine (such as Benadryl), are less expensive but can make you feel sleepy or tired.

      What are allergy shiners

      Don’t give antihistamines to your kid unless you’ve checked with the doctor first.

    2. To relieve a stuffy nose, use a steroid nasal spray (such as Nasacort). A steroid nasal spray can also assist with red, itchy, watery eyes.
    3. Another way to relieve a stuffy nose is a nasal or oral decongestant (such as Sudafed PE). Decongestants may not be safe for young children or for people who own certain health problems.
    4. To assist relieve pain, attempt acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

    If your symptoms still annoy you, enquire your doctor if immunotherapy might assist you.

    For this treatment, you get allergy shots or use pills that own a little quantity of certain allergens in them. Your body «gets used to» the allergen, so you react less to it over time. This helpful of treatment may assist prevent or reduce some allergy symptoms.

    When to see a GP

    Visit a GP if the symptoms of allergic rhinitis are disrupting your sleep, preventing you carrying out everyday activities, or adversely affecting your performance at work or school.

    A diagnosis of allergic rhinitis will generally be based on your symptoms and any possible triggers you may own noticed.

    If the cause of your condition is uncertain, you may be referred for allergy testing.

    Find out more about diagnosing allergic rhinitis


    Current as ofJune 27, 2018

    Author: Healthwise Staff
    Medical Review: E.

    Gregory Thompson, MD — Internal Medicine
    Brian O’Brien, MD, FRCPC — Internal Medicine
    Adam Husney, MD — Family Medicine
    Martin J. Gabica, MD — Family Medicine
    Kathleen Romito, MD — Family Medicine
    Rohit K.

    What are allergy shiners

    Katial, MD — Allergy and Immunology

    1-in-3 children own allergies, and numerous parents don’t realize it. An allergy occurs when the immune system mistakes a harmless substance for a dangerous one. Allergens trigger an allergic reaction that manifests in itching, watery eyes, stuffy nose and other allergy symptoms. These symptoms are also similar to the common freezing, but if you notice symptoms persisting longer than two weeks, repeatedly throughout the year or at the same time every year, contact us for an allergy test.

    Further problems

    Allergic rhinitis can lead to complications in some cases.

    These include:

    1. sinusitis – an infection caused by nasal inflammation and swelling that prevents mucus draining from the sinuses
    2. nasal polyps – abnormal but non-cancerous (benign) sacs of fluid that grow inside the nasal passages and sinuses
    3. middle ear infections – infection of part of the ear located directly behind the eardrum

    These problems can often be treated with medication, although surgery is sometimes needed in severe or long-term cases.

    Find out more about the complications of allergic rhinitis

    Symptoms of allergic rhinitis

    Allergic rhinitis typically causes cold-like symptoms, such as sneezing, itchiness and a blocked or runny nose.

    These symptoms usually start soon after being exposed to an allergen.

    Some people only get allergic rhinitis for a few months at a time because they’re sensitive to seasonal allergens, such as tree or grass pollen. Other people get allergic rhinitis every year round.

    Most people with allergic rhinitis own mild symptoms that can be easily and effectively treated.

    What are allergy shiners

    But for some people symptoms can be severe and persistent, causing sleep problems and interfering with everyday life.

    The symptoms of allergic rhinitis occasionally improve with time, but this can take numerous years and it’s unlikely that the condition will vanish completely.