What kind of allergies cause ear infections
Not every cases of rhinitis are caused by an allergic reaction.
Some cases are the result of:
- oversensitive blood vessels in the nose
- an infection, such as the common cold
- 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
Itchy eyes, a congested nose, sneezing, wheezing and hives: these are symptoms of an allergic reaction caused when plants release pollen into the air, generally in the spring or drop.
Numerous people use hay fever as a colloquial term for these seasonal allergies and the inflammation of the nose and airways.
But hay fever is a misnomer, said Dr. Jordan Josephson, an ear, nose and throat doctor and sinus specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
«It is not an allergy to hay,» Josephson, author of the book «Sinus Relief Now» (Perigee Trade, 2006), told Live Science. «Rather, it is an allergy to weeds that pollinate.»
Doctors and researchers prefer the phrase allergic rhinitis to describe the condition.
More than 50 million people experience some type of allergy each year, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. In 2017, 8.1% of adults and 7.7% of children reported own allergic rhinitis symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Worldwide, between 10 and 30% of people are affected by allergic rhinitis, Josephson said.
In 2019, spring arrived early in some parts of the country and later in others, according to the National Phenology Network (NPN).
Spring brings blooming plants and, for some, lots of sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and runny noses. According to NPN data, spring reared its head about two weeks early in areas of California, Nevada and numerous of the Southern and Southeastern states. Much of California, for example, is preparing for a brutal allergy season due to the large quantity of winter rain. On the other hand, spring ranged from about one to two weeks tardy in the Northwest, the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic U.S. [Watch a Massive ‘Pollen Cloud’ Explode from Late-Blooming Tree]
The symptoms of allergic rhinitis may at first feel love those of a freezing.
But unlike a freezing that may incubate before causing discomfort, symptoms of allergies generally appear almost as soon as a person encounters an allergen, such as pollen or mold.
Symptoms include itchy eyes, ears, nose or throat, sneezing, irritability, nasal congestion and hoarseness. People may also experience cough, postnasal drip, sinus pressure or headaches, decreased sense of smell, snoring, sleep apnea, fatigue and asthma, Josephson said. [Oral Allergy Syndrome: 6 Ways to Avoid an Itchy, Tingling Mouth]
Many of these symptoms are the immune system’s overreaction as it attempts to protect the vital and sensitive respiratory system from exterior invaders.
The antibodies produced by the body hold the foreign invaders out, but also cause the symptoms characteristic of allergic responses.
People can develop hay fever at any age, but most people are diagnosed with the disorder in childhood or early adulthood, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms typically become less severe as people age.
Often, children may first experience food allergies and eczema, or itchy skin, before developing hay fever, Josephson said.
«This then worsens over the years, and patients then develop allergies to indoor allergens love dust and animals, or seasonal rhinitis, love ragweed, grass pollen, molds and tree pollen.»
Hay fever can also lead to other medical conditions. People who are allergic to weeds are more likely to get other allergies and develop asthma as they age, Josephson said.
But those who get immunotherapy, such as allergy shots that assist people’s bodies get used to allergens, are less likely to develop asthma, he said.
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.
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
Allergic rhinitis can lead to complications in some cases.
- sinusitis – an infection caused by nasal inflammation and swelling that prevents mucus draining from the sinuses
- nasal polyps – abnormal but non-cancerous (benign) sacs of fluid that grow inside the nasal passages and 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
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
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.