Allergic Rhinitis (aka Hay Fever)

Rhinitis (with its suffix -itis) refers to an inflammation of the nose. Allergic rhinitis refers to nasal inflammation that occurs in response to some sort of allergen. It is a non-communicable condition which has been estimated to affect around 30% of the world’s population.

Symptoms

Symptoms may vary between individuals, but usually include most or all of:

Causes

It may or may not be clear as to what causes allergic rhinitis in a particular individual. Allergens vary from one to another and may include anything among:

  • outdoor trigger factors such as pollen (in which case symptoms may be seasonal), grass, trees
  • indoor trigger factors such as dust, animal fur, mites, mould, fungal spores
  • chemical irritants such as powder, perfume, detergent, cigarette smoke, fertiliser

Prevention

Being allergic in cause, the obvious means of preventing hay fever is to avoid exposure to the allergen(s). Of course, in order to practise this, one should be aware of what causes their symptoms to begin with.

Depending on if symptoms are persistent, repetitive or seasonal, observation is the best means to determine your trigger factor(s). If it does not seem obvious, maintain a diary of where you have been and what you were exposed to on days that you experience an allergic rhinitis reaction. This would make it easier to narrow down the bad guy(s).

Treatment

Apart from cutting off exposure to the allergen (if known), in order to alleviate symptoms, one may try:

  • an antihistamine, which would counter the effect of histamines released by the body in allergic reactions. (Note: Most antihistamines are known to cause drowsiness; Claritine (loratadine) is known for not having such an effect on most people.)
  • a nasal spray, preferably a salt solution spray, to ease congestion. While steroidal nasal sprays are often prescribed for quick relief, they are best avoided due to development of drug dependence and long-term side-effects.
  • an eye wash, to help ease itchiness and burn caused by tearing.
  • getting extra rest, while the body figures its way out through the situation.

Of course, chronic and uncontrollable symptoms would warrant for professional medical attention.

Cover illustrations from mumbrella.com.au.

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