Most of us would have experienced it before — while spring cleaning our house, changing the bedsheets or sweeping the floor, we get caught in a frenzied episode of sneezing, tearing in the eyes and blocked nose.

Many patients have mistaken these symptoms as “sinus”. Actually, this condition is known as Allergic Rhinitis.

Sinus refers to the air-filled spaces in our facial bones which are lined by skin which secretes. Mucus will flow out of the sinus through narrow drainage pathways and into the nose.

An allergy is the immune system’s exaggerated response to foreign substances. These foreign substances are typically harmless to non-allergic individuals. However, they trigger a response in allergic individuals.

Signs and Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction affecting the nose.

These symptoms such as runny, itchy or blocked nose are caused by the body’s attempt to rid itself of the foreign substance. They could be intermittent or persistent problem, depending on your condition:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing and itchy nose
  • Blocked nose

Sometimes, children may present different symptoms from adults. Their symptoms include:

  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Tossing and turning while sleeping (restless sleep)
  • Nose bleeds
  • Blocked nose
  • Runny nose

Children who breathe through their mouth over the long term as they are growing up may experience interference with their facial growth.
This action can affect the upper airway passage, which increases the risk of obstructive sleep apnea and leads to an increased risk of heart problems when they are older.

Diagnosing Allergic Rhinitis

Allergy test using blood

For allergies to be appropriately treated and controlled, it is important that the specific allergen(s) causing the allergic symptoms is identified.

The first step to identifying the allergen is getting a detailed history of the patient’s medical condition and conducting a physical examination to confirm the symptoms of allergy.

The methods of determining the incriminated allergen include using blood tests. Nasal endoscopy may sometimes be performed to exclude other nasal conditions.

Treating and Managing Allergic Rhinitis

Medication such as antihistamines and nasal sprays can help to treat some allergy symptoms. However, for allergies, prevention is often the best practice.

Prevention means:

  • Avoiding items or food that cause the symptoms
  • Changing your lifestyle i.e. switching to anti-dust mite mattresses or pillows etc.

If your allergies persist despite avoiding the allergens and consuming the prescribed medications, immunotherapy may be an alternative treatment option.

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