What is Allergic rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis is an allergy disease that involves one of the respiratory tract organs, the nose. Allergy is defined as an abnormal/extreme sensitivity to a substance that does not cause any issues in the majority of the population. A person's allergy depends on genetic and environmental factors. Someone with a strong family history has a higher risk of allergy compared with a person who does not have such background.

Allergic rhinitis is categorized based on the duration and severity of the symptoms. If the symptoms persist for less than 4 days a week or less than 4 consecutive weeks a year, this instance is categorized as intermittent/seasonal allergy (also known as hay fever). If the symptoms persist for more than 4 days a week and more than 4 consecutive weeks a year, it is classified as “persistent” allergic rhinitis. If the symptoms are accompanied by discomforting instances such as sleep issues or difficulty maintaining daily activities (work, school) the disease falls under the “medium-severe” category, if there are no discomforting issues related to sleep or daily activities, it is categorized as “mild”.

What are the symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis patients mainly complain of sneezing, itching in the nose and eyes, nasal discharge and congestion. Coughing, weakening of smell and taste sensations and hoarseness are also some of the rarely observed symptoms.

In seasonal allergy cases these complaints usually occur in the spring due to pollens while in persistent allergic rhinitis cases, mites, fungus and pet hair are the main triggers.

Why is Allergic Rhinitis important?

Allergic rhinitis causes significant social, clinical and economic loss. These symptoms may affect patients' life directly. Some patients may have trouble sleeping or maintaining daily activities which can cause issues at work or school. Allergic rhinitis can also be accompanied by asthma, sinusitis, otitis media, food allergies and allergic skin diseases.

How is Allergic Rhinitis diagnosed?

Patient's age, times of the year or places where the symptoms are aggravated, accompanying diseases, relatives with allergies are important factors that should be taken into account in the diagnosis of allergic rhinitis. Following examination and questioning, an allergy test may be conducted. These tests include skin tests or blood tests.

How is Allergic Rhinitis treated?

Allergic Rhinitis treatment can be threefold:

1)Preventative measures: Avoiding the allergy causing substance

2)Medication: Medication is crucial to allergy treatment. This includes oral antihistamines, steroid nasal sprays, oral leukotriene receptor antagonists, decongestant nasal sprays. Patients who complain of redness in the eye or itching may also use eye drops to alleviate these symptoms.  

3) Immunotheraphy (Vaccination): The allergen substance is introduced to the patient in incrementally increased volumes in order to lower the body's sensitivity.

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