What are common fall allergies
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
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.
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.
Not every cases of rhinitis are caused by an allergic reaction.
Some cases are the result of:
- an infection, such as the common cold
- oversensitive blood vessels in the nose
- 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
You can’t get more natural than plants. Humans own been around them for our entire evolutionary history. So why are roughly 20 percent of Americans allergic to pollen, as if this plant sperm powder were some sort of toxic foreign substance?
The genuine question, according to Susan Waserman, professor of medicine in the division of clinical immunology and allergy at McMaster University in Canada, is not «Why pollen?» but «Why allergies at all?» Humans typically become allergic to things we’re frequently exposed to as children.
Pollen is one of those things; in the spring, a cubic meter of air can contain thousands of pollen grains, so we’re inhaling them fairly constantly. But we’re also routinely exposed to food and pet hair as kids, and we commonly develop allergies to those, too.
So it’s not pollen, it’s just stuff. «If you’ve got that genetic tendency to become sensitized» — i.e.
to develop allergic reactions to harmless substances — «the huge quantity of pollen you breathe in and out can easily lead to sensitization,» Waserman told Life’s Little Mysteries.
If there’s nothing particularly heinous about pollen besides its prevalence, why do we develop allergies in the first place? The way it works is this: Allergies set in when your immune system misjudges a harmless protein, interpreting it as a threat. Once your system has gotten the incorrect impression about a cat hair or pollen grain, there’s no changing its «mind» — you’re stuck with the allergy, often for the relax of your life.
The immune system will lift its defenses every time it detects the presence of the offending substance, or allergen.
First, immune cells produce pitchforklike proteins called antibodies. Each antibody picks up an allergen molecule and carries it to white blood cells called mast cells, which trigger the release of chemicals love histamine.
Those induce the allergic symptoms we every know and loathe: wheezing, sneezing, itching, swelling and rashes.
But why do immune systems make that fateful error in the first place?
There’s some evidence that allergies set in when you happen to be exposed to an allergen at the same time that you’re fighting off a virus, such as the common freezing. «It’s entirely plausible that when the body is mounting a large immune response to a virus, that you’re going to trigger an allergic response to something you’re exposed to at the same time,» Waserman said. «But we don’t know definitely.»
Most studies of children getting «co-infected» by viruses and allergies own focused on pet hair allergies, she said, but the explanation may pertain to the onset of pollen and food allergies, too.
On the other hand, inadequate exposure to bacteria and viruses during early childhood also vastly increases the likelihood that you’ll develop allergies.
Thanks to modern hygiene —antibacterial soap, clean water, pasteurized milk and more — kids aren’t exposed to almost as numerous microbes as they used to be. As a result, their immune systems get fewer opportunities to study how to discriminate between dangerous pathogens and harmless things love pollen. It’s called the «hygiene hypothesis,» but according to Waserman, it’s an accepted theory. «People whose immune systems are no longer busy fighting infection become disregulated and allergic,» she said.
Questions remain about why infectious disease exposure sometimes triggers but at other times stifles the onset of allergies, and what the perfect balance of filthiness and cleanliness might be during childhood.
In the meantime, when the pollen count goes up on a lovely spring day, one-fifth of us are stuck indoors.
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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
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.
Allergic rhinitis can lead to complications in some cases.
- nasal polyps – abnormal but non-cancerous (benign) sacs of fluid that grow inside the nasal passages and sinuses
- sinusitis – an infection caused by nasal inflammation and swelling that prevents mucus draining from the sinuses
- 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