Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Do you have Allergic Rhinitis?

What is it?
An IgE mediated immunologic response of nasal mucosa(lining of inner wall of nose) to air-borne allergens (something that cause allergic response) that occur in genetically susceptible individual.Commonly begins in childhood, but can occur anytime whenever you are exposed to allergens of your interest.

What are the symptoms?
Watery nasal discharge, nasal obstruction, sneezing and itching in the nose with or without associated itching of the eyes, palate (roof of mouth) and pharynx (throat).

But mine is only intermittent!
There are two types of Allergic Rhinitis. In Seasonal type symptoms appear around particular seasons of the year when the potential allergens are more abundant in the air. But in Perennial type symptoms persist through-out the year.

What are my allergens?
Often they are inhaled as in Pollen, mould spores (fungal spores), house dust, debris from insects or house mites (food allergies rarely cause Allergic Rhinitis).

When should I expect the symptoms after the exposure to suspected allergen?
Symptoms appear in two phases. Acute/early phase: within 5-10mins after the exposure. (Sneezing, watery nasal discharge, nasal blockage or difficulty in breathing). Late/delayed phase: 2-8 hrs later. When you live in an environment of continuous exposure you might have symptoms throughout the day with worsening at particular time, for eg, on waking up.

How will the doctor diagnose Allergic Rhinitis?
It doesn’t require much of Investigations. Even you can diagnose allergic rhinitis just by knowing its symptoms (doctors often examine you for what they called sign- but don’t bother about it). Otherwise it doesn’t require much, hardly if any, of investigations.

What complications can occur with longstanding Allergic Rhinitis? You are more prone to get:
Recurrent sinusitis, Nasal polyps, Otitis media (middle ear infection) and Asthma

How to treat Allergic Rhinitis?
Avoidance of allergens: doctors can do test to find out exactly what are your allergens. Otherwise general measures like avoiding cats or carpets, enclosing pillows and sheets with plastic sheets, wearing masks or changing work place may help.
Medical treatment: there are varieties of drugs including antihistamines, steroids, sympathommimetics and cromolyn glycate which can reduce the symptoms in acute setting as well as prevent further attacks.
Immunotherapy: a special technique of desensitization (slowly introduce allergen in small dozes for you to get used to it) of yourself to the allergens can be carried out once the medical treatment has failed.