Generally speaking, rhinitis means “inflammation of the nose”, and symptoms may include sinus congestion, headache, sneezing, runny nose and post nasal drip. Related symptoms include itchy/red/watery eyes, itchy ears and a scratchy throat. When a person with allergic rhinitis comes in contact with a particular microscopic allergen particle, an immunological chain reaction begins that ultimately produces these symptoms. Sometimes the triggering exposures are obvious, as would be in the case of pet dander allergy, and often a person can have multiple allergies. Non-allergic causes of nasal congestion include strong odors, tobacco smoke and upper respiratory viruses (colds). Allergy testing helps us determine your particular sensitivities.
After your triggers have been identified, specific environmental control measures can be implemented. Some of these may include keeping doors and windows closed to keep pollens out, placing dust mite covers on pillows and mattresses, and banning tobacco smoke from the house. Sometimes exposures are unavoidable, and medications such as antihistamines, nasal sprays and eye drops can provide relief. Ultimately if these measures provide inadequate relief, allergy shots are also an option for improving symptom control. Known as immunotherapy, regular injections of serum containing small amounts of a person’s particular allergens are administered in the upper arm. Tolerance develops gradually over time, and most individuals will require fewer medications in the end.