Excessive sneezing, specially in the morning or on exposure to cold weather or dust is a common medical problem affecting many individuals. Most of the time these people are suffering from a medical condition called Allergic Rhinitis. Allergic Rhinitis is the medical term for Catarrh, Hay Fever or “Peenasa” in Sinhala. It is due to an allergic inflammation of the nasal airway. We describe few facts that you should know about Allergic Rhinitis and steps that you can take to control it.
Is it due to Allergic Rhinitis or Something dangerous ?
The common symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis are sneezing, runny nose, nose block and itch eyes. These symptoms can be precipitated or aggravated on exposure to allergens like dust, grass pollen, animal dander, cold weather, cigarette smoke, etc. There are two types of Allergic Rhinitis. Perennial Allergic Rhinitis is common in younger children and symptoms persists though out the year. The second type is Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis which occur during the pollen season. Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis usually does not develop in children under the age of 6 years.
While Allergic Rhinitis is the most common cause of excessive sneezing, runny nose and nose block, Viral Rhinitis and Vasomotor Rhinitis can also cause similar problems. In Viral Rhinitis one may develop fever. Also, Viral Rhinitis is self healing and does not have frequent episode like in Allergic Rhinitis.
Some times one may notice blood in their nasal secretions with Allergic Rhinitis and can worry the individual. Recurrent sinusitis and nasal polyps are also common complications of Allergic Rhinitis.
How You Can Control Allergic Rhinitis:
Unfortunately there is no easy cure for this condition. Allergic Rhinitis is due to excessive sensitivity of your body’s immunity to external factors. As we know the common allergens causing Hay Fever, we can control the disease by avoiding these precipitating/aggravating factors.
Avoid Cigarette Smoke:
Refrain from smoking cigarette and second hand exposure. You will get many health benefits by avoiding cigarette smoke.
Avoid Dust Mites:
Dust mites are a tiny insects inhabiting in our carpets, rugs, pillow covers, etc. Clean these household items regularly and sun dry your pillow and pillow cases at least twice a week.
Avoid Wet and Cold Environments:
People with Allergic Rhinitis can not tolerate wet and cold conditions. Wear protective clothing when there is a potential to expose to cold environment.
Wear a Mask When Performing Some Tasks:
If you are dusting your home or cleaning your book shelf you can easily get exposed to allergens. Wearing a mask is an easy method to minimize the exposure and developing troublesome symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis.
Avoid Pets and Exposure to Animal Dander:
Animal Dander and their secretions can be the reason for you Allergic Rhinitis. If it is the reason your best option is to avoid them.
Change the cooking method:
You may be using a gas burner or wood fire. These methods can results in release of various chemicals and air and you might be allergic to those.
Avoid compost at least inside the house:
There is no argument that compost is a good fertilizer. But it can be the breeding place for many fungus which can cause Allergic Rhinitis. Avoiding compost and preventing exposure to fungus will give you a relief from Allergic Rhinitis.
Other than the measures given above one may need medical treatments. The aim of the treatment is to prevent or reduce the symptoms caused by inflammation of the nasal mucosa and conjunctiva.
Intranasal Steroids are the mainstay of treatment and prevention of Allergic Rhinitis. They come in the forms of Nasal Sprays and Nasal Drops. Since it takes time to make a therapeutic effect it is important to continue this medications few weeks on your doctors advise.
In some severe cases oral steroid (Eg: Prednisone) or injectable steroids might be needed.
This is one of the commonly used medication to control the symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis. Unlike Steroids it can give a rapid relief. Most of the old Antihistamine has the sedative side effects. Now there are new Antihistamines in the marked with minimum sedation.
Chlopheniramine and Diphenhydramine are mostly used , old antihistamines which are popular among public in their brand names as Piriton and Benadryl respectively. The disadvantage with these Antihistamines is that they are sedative and have to be taken frequently during the day.
The newer Antihistamines like Loratadine, Desloratadine, Fexofenadine have less sedative side effect and need to be taken only once a day.
Sodium Cromoglicate products are available as Nasal Sprays, Nebulizer Solutions, Eye drops and inhalers and has been in use as a treatment for Allergic Rhinitis for long time.
Topical decongestants can give a rapid relief from nose block associated with Catarrh but it is not advisable to use it on long term basis.
More severe cases with poor response to medical treatment and preventive measures might need Desensitization. It is a form of immunotherapy where the allergens are given gradually until body’s immune reaction to the particular allergen or group of allergens is suppressed.
Therapeutic efficacy of Alternative Medicinal Treatments like Acupuncture and Homeopathy is not supported by current available evidence. There are also many Ayurvedic Preparations in the market which claim to cure hay fever.
I hope you were able to gather some knowledge about Allergic Rhinitis. If you need any more clarification please leave a comment below.
[Please note that this article is only for educational purpose and should not be considered as a solution for your health care problems.]
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