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What is allergic rhinitis and how can I treat it?

Allergic rhinitis is a condition where the inside of the nose becomes inflamed, due to reacting with an allergen. Allergic rhinitis could be triggered by anything from pollen or dust, to mould, or animal dander (tiny flakes of skin from certain animals). It is estimated that one in every five people in the UK suffer from this condition (NHS.uk, 2019).

Allergic rhinitis can be seasonal for some people, so they suffer most at certain times of the year, such as during the spring and summer months, but others can suffer from perennial allergic rhinitis, where the symptoms are there all year round.

If your allergic rhinitis is triggered by pollen, it’s considered to be hay fever. However, there are many other allergens than can cause symptoms, so even if you don’t have hay fever, it is possible to suffer from another type of allergic rhinitis.

If your immune system is triggered by an allergen that you are sensitive to, this can cause the inside layer of the nose, known as the mucous membrane, to swell and start producing more mucus than is needed. These are the symptoms associated with Allergic rhinitis.

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Allergic rhinitis symptoms

Allergic rhinitis tends to cause symptoms that closely reflect those of the common cold. Sneezing and an itchy, blocked or runny nose are the most common symptoms.

For some people, symptoms are mild and can be effectively treated very easily. Some people experience more severe symptoms that can cause real issues with their everyday life or quality of sleep. If you have symptoms caused by allergic rhinitis that are preventing you from sleeping properly or are having a negative impact on other parts of your life, such as your ability to work, you should consult your doctor, who may suggest  medication to help manage the condition.

Allergic rhinitis treatment

If you can identify the trigger or multiple triggers for your allergic rhinitis, you can take steps to reduce your exposure to them, but it’s difficult to completely avoid potential allergens.

It is possible to treat your symptoms with a variety of different allergic rhinitis medications, and the right type of treatment for you will depend on the severity of your symptoms. For some, over the counter medicines may help to ease their symptoms, but if you are one of those sufferers who is looking for a way to manage the condition more effectively, you might benefit from taking a stronger medication.

There are two main types of treatment for allergic rhinitis: antihistamines and corticosteroids.

Antihistamines for treating allergic rhinitis

Antihistamines can help to relieve the symptoms of allergic rhinitis by blocking the action of histamine (a chemical within the body) which is released when your body thinks it is being attacked by an allergen.

Antihistamine medications for treating allergic rhinitis include FexofenadineDesloratadineRhinolastTelfast and Xyzal.

Corticosteroids for treating allergic rhinitis

Corticosteroid nasal sprays can be effective against the swelling and inflammation caused by allergic rhinitis. They should ideally be used preventatively, before you come into contact with the allergen(s) that trigger your symptoms. Corticosteroids for treating allergic rhinitis include RhinocortFlixonaseAvamys and Beconase.

Some medications used to treat allergic rhinitis contain both antihistamine and corticosteroids as active ingredients. An example of this combination medication is Dymista nasal spray.

Whilst most modern treatments for allergic rhinitis are non-drowsy and are suitable for most healthy adults to use, you should consult your doctor before taking any new medicine if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have any other medical conditions or are already taking any other types of medication.

It’s often possible to treat the symptoms of allergic rhinitis effectively with a variety of medications, but it’s unlikely that the condition will ever totally disappear. However, there are treatments that can help you to manage it effectively, so that the negative impact of allergic rhinitis on your daily life is minimised.

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Reference:

Nhs UK., (2019). Allergic Rhinitis. [Online] [Accessed 10 May 2019]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/allergic-rhinitis/

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