What happens to your nose when you have allergies

Allergic rhinitis is triggered by allergens. Allergens include, but are not limited to, pollen, mold, dust and animal dander. When a person with allergic rhinitis breathes in an allergen, their body reacts by releasing chemicals that lead to allergy symptoms. Allergic rhinitis may vary based on the time of year, since weather impacts the quantity of pollen in the air. For example, on boiling, dry days there will be more pollen and allergens in the air. On cool, damp days allergens and pollen are washed to the ground.
When blood vessels in an individual’s nose expand, the nasal lining fills with blood and fluid, leading to nonallergic rhinitis.

Things that may trigger nonallergic include weather changes, infection, certain foods/drinks and hormone changes.


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


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


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

If your nose is itching it may be allergic rhinitis

It’s simple to dismiss hay fever as a minor nuisance.

But call it by its proper name, allergic rhinitis, and you’ll be on the way to recognizing it as a legitimate medical problem. Add the fact that it affects about one of every five Americans and drains the economy of billions of dollars each year, and you’ll see that it’s an significant problem indeed. Fortunately, it’s also a problem that responds extremely well to treatment.

The itchy nose knows

For numerous people, allergic rhinitis is a temporary seasonal woe, but for others, it’s a year-round hassle.

And for some, it can be linked to asthma, sinusitis, or other more serious problems. Because allergic rhinitis is so extremely common, it also adds up to an expensive proposition for American society.

If you are one of the unlucky numerous with allergies, you’ll own to study to deal with the problem.

What happens to your nose when you own allergies

Avoid exposure to things that trigger symptoms. Experiment with medications to control symptoms; nonsedating antihistamines, antihistamine nasal sprays, and steroid nasal sprays are among the first-line treatments. Some men may prefer one of the numerous other drugs that are available, and others need combination therapy. Immunotherapy is available for particularly hard cases.

The numerous options for treating allergic rhinitis can be confusing at first, but if you take the time to nose around, you’ll discover a way to hold your nose working smoothly — without running!

Image: ©PeopleImages | GettyImages

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis

Nearly everyone with allergic rhinitis complains of an itchy, stuffy, runny nose.

Sneezing is almost as common, and a postnasal drip can trigger coughing. Typical symptoms extend beyond the nose to include an itchy or sore throat and itchy, burning, watery eyes that may glance red due to allergic conjunctivitis.

Allergic rhinitis diagnosis

Most people with allergic rhinitis can diagnose the problem themselves simply by recognizing typical symptoms. In complicated cases, an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist can check for polyps and other nasal abnormalities.

If it is significant to identify specific allergic triggers, allergists can act out skin tests; the so-called RAST blood test can also assist pin below the culprits.

Treatment of allergic rhinitis

Three strategies are available: avoiding triggers, using medications to reduce symptoms, and getting immunotherapy («allergy shots»).

Avoiding triggers. Here are the steps to take for seasonal rhinitis:

  1. Keep your windows and doors closed as much as possible during pollen season.
  2. Limit your outdoor activities when pollen counts are high.

    Ragweed counts generally peak in early midday, grass pollen in tardy afternoon and early evening. If you own to do yard work during pollen season, wear an N95 mask. Shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes afterwards.

  3. Use air conditioners instead of fans, which bring in exterior air. Drive with your windows and vents closed and your air conditioner on.

For year-round allergic rhinitis:

  1. Remove carpets from your bedroom.
  2. If you own a dog or cat that triggers symptoms, own it bathed weekly and do your best to hold it off furniture and out of the bedroom.
  3. Put pillows, box springs, and mattresses in sealed plastic covers (allergen encasements) to hold out dust mites.

    Wash bedding in boiling water (above 120° F) to kill dust mites.

  4. Use a dehumidifier to hold relative humidity under 40%.

Medication. Numerous treatments are available. Here’s a quick summary of the major types.

Antihistamine tablets will assist most patients. For the majority of people, one of the less sedating preparations will be best. Numerous are available over the counter, such as loratadine (Alavert, Claritin, generic), cetirizine (Zyrtec, generic), and fexofenadine (Allegra, generic).

High doses can produce sleepiness and dry mouth; men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) may own difficulty urinating.

Nasal steroid sprays are extremely effective but generally take several days to kick in. Love the oral antihistamines, these drugs can relieve eye symptoms as well as nose symptoms.

What happens to your nose when you own allergies

Examples include budesonide (Rhinocort Allergy), fluticasone (Flonase Allergy Relief), and triamcinolone (Nasacort Allergy 24HR), which are available without prescription. Side effects may include nasal irritation and headaches.

Antihistamine nasal sprays are an alternative to oral antihistamines. Azelastine (Astelin) and olopatadine (Patanase) are available by prescription; some patients experience a bitter taste or drowsiness.

Leukotriene blockers, such as the oral prescription drug montelukast (Singulair), relieve most symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

Headache can be a side effect.

Decongestants are available without prescription as tablets (pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine) or nasal sprays (phenylephrine, oxymetazoline) and can relieve nasal congestion but own little effect on other allergic rhinitis symptoms. Side effects may include nervousness, racing heart, elevated blood pressure, and insomnia. Men with BPH may own difficulty urinating.

What happens to your nose when you own allergies

Decongestants should not be relied on for primary treatment but can be combined with a first-line drug for temporary use. You should not use a decongestant nasal spray for more than a few days.

Other medications include an anticholinergic nasal spray called ipratropium (Atrovent), which is effective only for runny noses and various anti-allergic eye drops can be used to treat eye symptoms. In rare cases, patients with severe rhinitis may need a short course of oral steroids.

Immunotherapy, or «allergy shots,» can assist achieve long-term control of allergic rhinitis.

The regimen generally involves skin testing to identify the responsible allergens followed by weekly injections of gradually increasing doses of the allergen, and then maintenance injections every two to six weeks for several years. Most doctors reserve immunotherapy for patients who do not reply well to medication.

Types of rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is the most common. Seasonal allergic rhinitis comes and goes as various plants come into bloom. If your symptoms happen in the spring, you are probably allergic to tree pollen; in the summer, grass and weed pollens are the likely culprits; in the tardy summer and drop, ragweed is the most likely cause.

But if your symptoms happen year-round (perennial allergic rhinitis), you are probably allergic to indoor allergens such as dust mites, mold, or animal dander.

Rhinitis can also happen without allergies. Examples include viral rhinitis (the common cold); drug-induced rhinitis (possible culprits include Viagra and the other ED pills, the alpha blockers used for benign prostatic hyperplasia, the ACE inhibitors and beta blockers used for hypertension, and aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs); and hormonal rhinitis (including the «pregnant nose» experienced by some women).

In some people, exercise, eating, and exposure to freezing or dry air, air pollutants, or strong smells can trigger rhinitis. Inflammation is absent in nonallergic rhinitis, and the symptoms are limited to a runny, stuffy nose.

A final category of rhinitis can be particularly tricky. It’s rhinitis medicamentosa, irritation of the nasal membranes caused by overuse of decongestant nasal sprays such as phenylephrine and oxymetazoline that some people use for quick relief of allergic rhinitis.

Asthma, eczema, and sinusitis

Between 20% and 40% of patients with allergic rhinitis also own asthma.

Other allergy-related disorders such as eczema may also be present. Some patients own nasal polyps, a deviated nasal septum, or sinusitis.

Itchy nose and seasonal allergies

If a man thinks about his nose at every, he’s likely to ponder of it as a simple organ of smell. It’s true, of course, that the nose is responsible for the sense of smell, but smell means much more than the ability to enjoy pleasing scents. Because smell contributes importantly to taste, it plays a central role in maintaining excellent nutrition. Smell can also warn us of dangers ranging from toxic fumes and smoky fires to spoiled food.

Allergic rhinitis can blunt the sense of smell, and it can also interfere with the other significant functions of the nose.

When your nasal passages are functioning normally, about five to eight quarts of air pass through them each minute. Your nose has the occupation of conditioning that air before it reaches the sensitive tissue of your lungs. Your nose adds moisture, but to do that, it must produce large amounts of mucus. It also warms the air, with assist from a large network of blood vessels.

What happens to your nose when you own allergies

Finally, the nose traps little particles, keeping them out of the lungs.

If you own allergies and your nose traps pollen or other particles to which you are sensitive, an inflammatory process starts correct in your nose. Immune system mast cells in the nasal tissue release chemicals such as histamine and leukotrienes. Blood vessels swell, causing nasal congestion, and mucus production soars, creating a runny nose. Just love that, you’ve developed some of the symptoms of allergic rhinitis — and some of your nose’s normal functions own been compromised.

Share this page:

Disclaimer:
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content.

What happens to your nose when you own allergies

Please note the date of final review on every articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Are You Allergic to Your Pet? Breathe Easy—You Can Still Hold Your Animal Companion!

Although numerous people own discovered the beneficial effects of caring for a furry friend, the fact remains that roughly 15 to 20% of the population is allergic to animals.

The result? Countless pet parents in unhappy, unhealthy situations—and their beloved pets are the cause! Allergen is the medical term for the actual substance that causes an allergic reaction. Touching or inhaling allergens leads to reactions in allergic individuals. Symptoms can include red, itchy, watery eyes and nose; sneezing; coughing; scratchy or sore throat; itchy skin, and most serious of every, difficulty breathing.

The most common pet allergens are proteins found in their dander (scales of ancient skin that are constantly shed by an animal), saliva, urine and sebaceous cells. Any animal can trigger an allergic response, but cats are the most common culprits.

People can also become allergic to exotic pets such as ferrets, guinea pigs, birds, rabbits and rodents. There is no species or breed to which humans cannot develop allergies. Fur length and type will not affect or prevent allergies. Certain pets can be less irritating than others to those who suffer from allergies, but that is strictly on an individual basis and cannot be predicted.

Once the diagnosis of a pet allergy is made, a physician will often recommend eliminating the companion animal from the surroundings. Heartbreaking? Yes. Absolutely necessary?

Not always. Hold in mind that most people are allergic to several things besides pets, such as dust mites, molds and pollens, every of which can be found in the home. Allergic symptoms result from the entire cumulative allergen load. That means that if you eliminate some of the other allergens, you may not own to get rid of your pet. (Conversely, should you decide to remove your pet from your home, this may not immediately solve your problems.) You must also be prepared to invest the time and effort needed to decontaminate your home environment, limit future exposure to allergens and discover a physician who will work with you.

What happens to your nose when you own allergies

Read on for helpful tips:

Improving the Immediate Environment

  1. Dust regularly. Wiping below the walls will also cut below on allergens.
  2. Vacuum frequently using a vacuum equipped with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting) filter or a disposable electrostatic bag. Other kinds of bags will permit allergens to blow back out of the vacuum.
  3. Use anti-allergen room sprays. These sprays deactivate allergens, rendering them harmless. Enquire your allergist for a product recommendation.
  4. Clean the litter box frequently. Use low-dust, perfume-free filler.

    Clumping litter is a excellent choice.

  5. Limit fabrics. Allergens collect in rugs, drapes and upholstery, so do your best to limit or eliminate them from your home. If you select to hold some fabrics, steam-clean them regularly. Cotton-covered furniture is the smartest choice, and washable blinds or shades make excellent window treatments.

    What happens to your nose when you own allergies

    You can also cover your furniture with sheets or blankets which you can remove and wash regularly.

  6. Install an air purifier fitted with a HEPA filter. Our modern, energy-efficient homes lock in air that is loaded with allergens, so it’s brilliant to let in some unused air daily.
  7. Create an allergen-free room. A bedroom is often the best and most practical choice. By preventing your pet from entering this room, you can ensure at least eight hours of liberty from allergens every night.

    It’s a excellent thought to use hypoallergenic bedding and pillow materials.

  8. Invest in washable pet bedding and cages that can be cleaned often and easily.


Decontaminating Your Pet

  1. Note any symptoms of dermatitis exhibited by your companion animal. Dermatitis often leads to accelerated skin and fur shedding, which will up your allergen exposure.
  2. Bathe your pet at least once a week. Your veterinarian can recommend a shampoo that won’t dry out his skin. Bathing works to wash off the allergens that accumulate in an animal’s fur.
  3. Wipe your pet with a product formulated to prevent dander from building up and flaking off into the environment.

    Enquire your veterinarian to propose one that is safe to use on animals who groom themselves.

  4. Brush or comb your pet frequently. It’s best to do this outdoors, if possible. (The ASPCA does not recommend keeping cats outdoors, so make certain your feline is leashed if you take him outside.)


Taking Care of Yourself

  1. Designate a “pet outfit” from among your most easily washed clothes. Wear it when playing or cuddling with your companion, and you’ll leave other clothing uncontaminated.
  2. If possible, own someone other than yourself do the housecleaning, litter box work and pet washing, wiping and brushing.

    If you must clean the home or change the litter, be certain to wear a dust mask.

  3. Wash your hands after handling your companion animal and before touching your face. The areas around your nose and eyes are particularly sensitive to allergens.
  4. Find a physician, preferably an allergy specialist, who will make certain that your pet is the cause of your allergies and will assist alleviate your symptoms.

    Medications and immunotherapy (desensitizing shots) can often permit you and your companion animal to remain together happily ever after.

What is rhinitis?

Often referred to as nasal allergies, rhinitis occurs when a person inhales allergens. This may lead to nasal itching, sneezing, discharge and stuffiness as well as itching of the ears or roof of mouth. Allergic rhinitis is a common medical problem, affecting over 15 percent of the population.

There are two types of rhinitis: allergic and nonallergic.

Allergic rhinitis is often worse during spring and drop, when pollen levels are high. The immune system responds to allergens by releasing chemical mediators and histamine. This leads to symptoms such as sneezing, stuffy nose and itchy eyes.
One-third of individuals with rhinitis do not suffer from allergies. Nonallergic rhinitis is typically seen in adults and symptoms final year-round.

What happens to your nose when you own allergies

If your doctor concludes that your symptoms are not the result of allergies or another sinus problem, you may own nonallergic rhinitis.


What causes allergic rhinitis

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.


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.


RELATED VIDEO: