Often occurring seasonally, allergies can be either a minor inconvenience or a major annoyance, depending on the severity and duration of the symptoms experienced. Allergies causing inflammation (swelling) in the nose are referred to as allergic rhinitis. Such allergies are often triggered by airborne particles. Symptoms can range from a runny nose to throat irritation. Treatment often involves medications to manage symptoms.
Allergy Triggers and Symptoms
Allergic rhinitis may be triggered by either indoor or outdoor contaminants. Indoor irritants may include dust mites, pet dander, and allergens from heating and cooling ducts. Outdoor triggers may include grass and allergens from trees. People who are sensitive to allergies may experience:
- Sneezing and nasal congestion
- Facial pressure (feeling of “fullness”)
- Itchy and watery eyes
- Eustachian tube dysfunction (ear pressure)
- Postnasal drainage (“postnasal drip”)
- Accompanying voice and throat issues
Overlapping Respiratory Conditions
Allergic rhinitis may also occur with other respiratory issues, with asthma and sinusitis being two of the most common conditions that occur simultaneously. The condition is sometimes mistaken for acid reflux. In some cases, a patient may have both upper airway acid reflux and allergic rhinitis.
Identifying Allergy Triggers
Tests may be done to help a patient identify possible or likely allergy triggers. While medications may minimize reactions to some triggers, avoidance is also recommended. Avoidance is the primary “treatment” recommended before other options are considered, as may be the case when it isn’t practical to stay away from all possible triggers.
Medications for Allergies
Some of the same medications that may manage sinusitis are equally effective for controlling allergy symptoms. Many of the common antihistamines available over-the-counter at local pharmacies will also successfully manage symptoms. Some patients will experience better relief from prescription versions of those same medications. Such medications commonly come in tablet or spray form.
Newer OTC and prescription antihistamines are formulated to minimized drowsiness, a common problem with older versions of the same medications. Sprays may provide a decongestant effect that’s not experienced with tablets alone. Nasal steroids are often prescribed to manage allergic rhinitis.
It’s important for patients to use such medications properly to achieve the desired results. Singulair is one type of medication that may be effective for problematic allergy symptoms because it minimizes the release of chemicals called leukotrienes that are produced by the body when certain allergens are inhaled.
Other Treatments for Allergies
If over-the-counter and prescription medications aren’t effective for allergy symptom management, other treatments may be recommended. Patients may respond better to immunotherapy or the use of allergy shots. Immunotherapy, in particular, is considered the only “cure” for allergies.
On days when pollen counts are high, it may be necessary for allergy suffers to remain indoors or stay away from areas where there’s freshly cut grass, pets, or a lot of trees. Taking precautions while cleaning and using special filters to keep dust from spreading may also help ease allergy issues. If allergies reach a point where quality of life is affected or symptoms are severe, immunotherapy may significantly ease sensitivity. Treatment recommendations will depend on a patient’s experience with allergies.