Allergic Rhinitis

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Chapter 2 : Allergic Rhinitis

Topics covered in this snack-sized chapter:

Allergic Rhinitis arrow_upward

  • Allergic rhinitis, more commonly referred to as hay fever, is an inflammation of the nasal passages caused by allergic reaction to airborne substances.
  • Allergic rhinitis is a type of immune reaction.
  • It occurs when you breathe in something you are allergic to, such as dust, dander, insect venom, or pollen.

  • Causes arrow_upward

  • The pollens that cause hay fever vary from person to person and from area to area. Tiny, hard-to-see pollens often cause hay fever. Examples of plants that cause hay fever include:
    • Trees
    • Grasses
    • Ragweed
  • Allergic rhinitis occurs only during periods of intense airborne pollen or spores.
  • Aging Process: The elderly are at risk for chronic rhinitis as the mucus membranes become dry with age. In addition, the cartilage supporting the nasal passages weakens, causing changes in airflow.
  • Irritative Rhinitis: Irritative rhinitis is caused by an overreaction to irritants, such as cigarette smoke, dozens of other air pollutants, strong odors, alcoholic beverages, and exposure to cold.
  • The nasal passages become red and engorged.
  • House dust and mites.
  • Molds growing on wallpaper, house plants, carpeting, and upholstery

  • Symptoms arrow_upward

  • Symptoms that occur shortly after you come into contact with the substance you are allergic to may include:
    • Itchy nose, mouth, eyes, throat, skin, or any area
    • Problems with smell
    • Runny nose
    • Sneezing
    • Tearing eyes
  • Symptoms that may develop later include:
    • Stuffy nose (nasal congestion)
    • Coughing
    • Clogged ears and decreased sense of smell
    • Sore throat
    • Dark circles under the eyes
    • Puffiness under the eyes
    • Fatigue and irritability
    • Headache
    • People with allergic rhinitis often have allergy symptoms that also involve the eyes.

    Test arrow_upward

    Physical Examination

  • The doctor will examine the inside of the nose with an instrument called a speculum.
  • This is a painless examination allowing the doctor to check for redness and other signs of inflammation.
  • The doctor will also usually check the eyes, ears, and chest.

  • Allergy Skin Tests

  • A skin test is a simple method for detecting common allergens.
  • Patients are usually tested for a panel of common allergens.

  • Laboratory Tests

  • Nasal Smear: The doctor may take a nasal smear.
  • The nasal secretion is examined microscopically for factors that might indicate a cause, such as increased number of white blood cells, indicating infection, or high counts of eosinophils.
  • Blood tests for IgE immunoglobulin production may also be performed. One test is called the radioallergosorbent Test (RAST), used to detect increased levels of allergen-specific IgE in response to particular allergens.

  • Imaging Tests

  • Imaging tests may be useful if other tests are ambiguous. CT scans may be useful for some cases of suspected sinusitis or sinus polyps.

  • Treatment arrow_upward

  • Avoidance of the allergens is the best treatment, but this is often not possible.
  • When it is not possible to avoid one or more allergens, there are two major forms of medical treatment, drugs and immunotherapy.

  • Drugs

  • Antihistamines work well for treating allergy symptoms.
  • Many antihistamines taken by mouth can be bought over the counter, without a prescription.
  • Older antihistamines can cause sleepiness.
  • Newer antihistamines cause little or no sleepiness.
  • Antihistamine nasal sprays work well for treating allergic rhinitis.

  • Immunotherapy

  • Immunotherapy, also known as desensitization or allergy shots, alters the balance of antibody types in the body, thereby reducing the ability of IgE to cause allergic reactions
  • Immunotherapy is preceded by allergy testing to determine the precise allergens responsible.

  • Prevention arrow_upward

  • Stay indoors with windows closed during the morning hours, when pollen levels are highest.
  • Keep car windows up while driving.
  • Clean air conditioner filters in the home regularly.
  • House dust.
  • Clean floors and walls with a damp mop.
  • Vacuum frequently, and change the bag regularly.
  • Install electrostatic filters in heating and cooling ducts, and change all filters regularly.
  • Excessive exposure to allergens, such as outdoor molds, can be prevented by avoiding lawn mowing and other activities likely to stir these up.
  • Animal dander.
  • Avoid contact if possible.
  • Wash hands after contact.
  • Vacuum frequently.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom, and off furniture, rugs, and other dander-catching surfaces.
  • Have your pets bathed and groomed frequently.

  • Thank You from Kimavi arrow_upward

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