Allergic Rhinitis (nasal allergies) is the medical term describing irritation and inflammation of the nose. It affects more than 50 million people and ranks as one of the most common illnesses in the United States. Many people are unaware that they are suffering from allergic rhinitis, most commonly known as “hay fever.”
Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis include nasal congestion (stuffy nose); runny nose; sneezing; postnasal drainage; itchy eyes, ears, nose or throat; watery eyes; and generalized fatigue. Sinus headache and ear plugging are also common.
Our clinic provides a comprehensive evaluation for adults and children to detect allergic rhinitis. Skin testing, also known as “scratch testing” and “prick testing” is the most common method of allergy testing. Testing can be done for a large number of allergens including tree pollen, grass pollen, weed pollen, house dust, dust mites, indoor and outdoor molds, farm pollen, dogs, cats, horses and other animals.
In some individuals who cannot undergo skin testing, RAST blood testing may be helpful. We also offer testing by Titration.
The goal of treatment is to reduce the allergy symptoms. Our treatment plan consists of avoidance or minimization of contact with the allergen, allergy medications and/or Immunotherapy (allergy shots).
For a consultation or appointment, call us at (303) 238-0471.
Allergic rhinitis (sometimes called “hay fever”) is one of the most common allergic diseases, affecting about 20-25% of people. It results from an allergic reaction in the nose due to inhaled allergens. Common airborne allergens include pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds, mold spores, or indoor allergens such as pet dander or dust mites. The allergic reaction causes inflammation in the nose that leads to symptoms.
Microscopic inflammation of the nasal and sinus tissues is the cause of the symptoms commonly referred to as nasal allergy, aka “hay fever”. Nasal congestion, drainage, sneezing, itching, pressure are common complaints.
The true cause of allergy is the formation of allergic antibodies by the immune system called IgE against pollens, dust, pet dander, and molds.
Allergy testing can be used to discover if someone is allergic and what triggers they have. This can aid in avoidance and recommended treatment choices.
It is commonly referred to as hayfever. In medical terms it is called allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis.
Rhinitis is defined as inflammation of the nasal membranes and is characterized by a combination of symptoms: sneezing, nasal congestion, nasal itching, and runny nose. The eyes, ears, sinuses, and throat can also be involved.
Most people do not seek medical help for allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis. While it is not life threatening, it contributes to learning difficulties, sleep disorders, and fatigue. Complications include ear infections, middle ear fluid or dysfunction, and sinusitis. Allergic rhinitis can be associated with other conditions such as asthma, eczema, or nasal polyps. Studies consistently show it significantly impairs overall quality of life.
Two-thirds of all patients have symptoms of allergic rhinitis before the age of 30, but onset can occur at any age. There is strong genetic predisposition to allergic rhinitis. Other conditions like pregnancy can initiate symptoms or make them worse.
Common causes are exposure to pollens, pets, dust, and mold.
Testing can be done for patients at any age. It is quick (20 minutes), inexpensive, and readily available at allergy offices by certified specialists. Allergy skin tests, also called scratch, prick, or puncture testing are the most accurate way to diagnose the cause of allergic symptoms. Blood tests are also available but are more costly and normal values are less well established for some allergens.
Pictures of the sinuses and upper airway such as sinus x-ray, CT scan, and neck x-ray may be helpful in diagnosis and defining other anatomic problems.
Avoiding allergens is the most optimal treatment. This is not as easy as it sounds. Dust mite covers, HEPA filters, removing animals and carpeting, reducing humidity, washing sheets in 130 degree water…these are among the long list of measures that may or may not help. Often it is impossible or costly to employ these recommendations. Medications are the next best step. They can be taken orally, sprayed in the nose, or applied on the eye. Antihistamines treat itchiness, nasal steroid sprays and sometimes saline washes treat inflammation and congestion, other nasal sprays act to reduce the runny nose only. The downside to medications is that even when they do work they only treat the symptoms, may cause side effects, and are costly.
So what hope is there for people who suffer from allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis besides medications? A considerable body of clinical research has established the effectiveness of high-dose allergy shots in reducing symptoms and medication requirements. It is only available treatment that can modify the natural course of the allergic disease, by reducing your body’s reaction to an allergen. Success rates have been demonstrated to be as high as 80-90% for certain allergens. It is a long-term process; noticeable improvement is often not observed for 6-12 months, and, therapy should be continued for 3-5 years. Immunotherapy, or allergy shots are not without risk because severe systemic allergic reactions can occur rarely. For these reasons, we carefully consider the risks and benefits of immunotherapy in each patient and weigh them against other management options. For these reasons, allergy shots are only prescribed by certified allergy doctors.
Last updated : 2/10/2023