Rhinitis Symptoms & Treatment

Rhinitis Symptoms & Treatment

Rhinitis is more commonly referred to as Hay Fever. The name Hay Fever came about because symptoms would strike during hay harvesting season, when these pollens would be in the air. While a hay allergy is possible, usually people with hay fever are allergic to trees, grasses and ragweed – not hay. Hay Fever, has two types: allergic and non-allergic.

Allergic Rhinitis
If you have allergic rhinitis, your immune system mistakenly identifies a typically harmless substance as an intruder. This substance is called an allergen. The immune system responds to the allergen by releasing histamine and chemical mediators that typically cause symptoms in the nose, throat, eyes, ears, skin and roof of the mouth.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is most often caused by pollen carried in the air during different times of the year in different parts of the country.

Allergic rhinitis can also be triggered by common indoor allergens such as the dried skin flakes, urine and saliva found on pet dander, mold, droppings from dust mites and cockroach particles. This is called perennial allergic rhinitis, as symptoms typically occur year-round.
In addition to allergen triggers, symptoms may also occur from irritants such as smoke and strong odors, or to changes in the temperature and humidity of the air. This happens because allergic rhinitis causes inflammation in the nasal lining, which increases sensitivity to inhalants.

Many people with allergic rhinitis are prone to allergic conjunctivitis (eye allergy). In addition, allergic rhinitis can make symptoms of asthma worse for people who suffer from both conditions.

Nonallergic Rhinitis
At least one out of three people with rhinitis symptoms do not have allergies. Nonallergic rhinitis usually afflicts adults and causes year-round symptoms, especially runny nose and nasal congestion. This condition differs from allergic rhinitis because the immune system is not involved.

RHINITIS (HAY FEVER) SYMPTOMS & DIAGNOSIS

Some typical symptoms of allergic rhinitis symptoms include itching in the nose, roof of the mouth, throat, eyes, sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, tearing eyes, and dark circles under the eyes.

You can expect to see these symptoms in the spring and fall, but sometimes they last all year long.

Thankfully, the physicians at Asthma & Allergy Specialists have specialized training and experience to diagnose specific allergens that trigger your illness, or to determine if your symptoms are non-allergic. Your allergist will take a thorough health history followed by allergy testing.

RHINITIS (HAY FEVER) TREATMENT & MANAGEMENT

Once specific allergens are diagnosed, your immunologist will work with you to develop a plan to avoid allergens that trigger your symptoms. For example, if you are allergic to dust mites or indoor mold, you will want to take steps to reduce these allergens in your house as much as possible.

For outdoor allergies such as pollen, avoidance measures include limiting outdoor activities during times of high pollen counts. The National Allergy BureauTM (NAB) provides the most accurate and reliable pollen and mold levels from approximately 80 counting stations throughout the United States, two counting stations in Canada and two counting stations in Argentina.

Allergy shots can be used to provide long-term relief for many people suffering from allergic rhinitis.

Another form of allergy immunotherapy was recently approved in the United States called sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) allergy tablets. Rather than shots, allergy tablets involve administering the allergens under the tongue generally on a daily basis.

Your allergist might prescribe medication to decrease allergic rhinitis symptoms. These medications may include nasal corticosteroid sprays, antihistamine pills, nasal antihistamine sprays or decongestant pills.

The treatment options for non-allergic rhinitis include nasal corticosteroids, nasal antihistamines and nasal saline formulations. If there is a lot of runny nose, ipratropium nasal spray can provide relief. If nasal congestion is a major problem, decongestant pills or sprays can be used, but the nasal decongestant sprays should not be used for more than four days unless they are used in conjunction with a nasal corticosteroid spray.

Be proactive. The majority of allergy medications for seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) work best if started before tree pollen is in the air each spring and allergy symptoms develop. If you start taking allergy medications before you first come into contact with spring allergens, the medication can prevent the release of histamine and other chemicals. As a result, allergy symptoms are prevented from developing or are much less severe. In other words, come see us before spring!

Asthma and Pregnancy

ASTHMA AND PREGNANCY

When women are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, they begin to strictly monitor what they eat and drink. One thing that’s easy the forget about is the relationship between asthma and pregnancy.

If you’re a mom-to-be, it is vital that you keep your asthma under control. It is important to avoid triggers and take your asthma medications as prescribed. These disciplines can all help ensure a healthy pregnancy for you and your little one.

If you struggle with asthma, it is encouraged that you monitor your asthma during prenatal visits. It is impossible to predict how your asthma will react to your pregnancy. One third of women experiences a worsening of symptoms, one third have a decrease in the severity and one third tend to stay the same. It is important to have these check-ins so your doctor can increase or decrease your medication if necessary.

Asthma attacks are most common during the later weeks of pregnancy, but are very rare during labor itself.

Managing Your Asthma During Pregnancy

What happens if you have an asthma flare-up during your pregnancy? An asthma flare-up causes decreased oxygen levels in the blood. This, in turn, can lead to less oxygen reaching the fetus. Low oxygen can impair healthy fetal growth and development.

If you were receiving allergy shots (immunotherapy) prior to becoming pregnant, it is safe for you to continue this treatment during pregnancy. Just be sure to let your allergist know that you are pregnant. If you are interested in starting allergy shots, it is best to wait until the baby is born.

What About Medications?

Make sure to continue taking your medications throughout your pregnancy. Many mothers-to-be are concerned about taking medications during pregnancy. Yet the risks posed by uncontrolled asthma are much greater than those from asthma treatments.

Inhaled corticosteroids are often the treatment of choice for persistent asthma. Studies have shown them to be effective and low-risk for pregnant women. The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP) recommends two specific drugs: budesonide (inhaled corticosteroid) and albuterol (short-acting Beta 2-agonist) as having good safety profiles when used during pregnancy.

Oral corticosteroids are not preferred for regular asthma treatment during pregnancy. However, they can be used to treat severe asthma attacks.

If you are pregnant and think you may have asthma, make sure to have your condition diagnosed to reduce the risks to your baby. Studies have linked asthma attacks in early pregnancy to birth defects.

If you want to learn more about asthma and pregnancy, make an appointment with one of the physicians at Asthma & Allergy Specialists today!