Rhinitis is inflammation of the nasal mucous membranes, which results in congested nasal passages and a “runny nose.” Allergic rhinitis is triggered by the inhalation of environmental allergens and can appear either with seasonal allergen exposure or on a more regular basis all year long. Allergic rhinitis is incredibly common, with between thirty and forty percent of the population experiencing symptoms at some point each year. Allergic rhinitis is often seen with a related condition, allergic conjunctivitis, which is itching, redness, and tearing of the eyes. More than just an annoyance, uncontrolled and persistent allergic rhinitis can lead to chronic sinus disease, sleep disorders, chronic headaches, and poor mental performance, so treatment is a must.
Common allergens that trigger seasonal allergic rhinitis include tree pollen, grass pollen, ragweed, and certain molds. Animal dander, dust mites, and molds tend to cause perennial allergies throughout the year.
Allergic Rhinitis and Conjunctivitis can be diagnosed with allergy skin testing. Once specific allergen sensitivities have been identified, it’s important for patients to avoid allergens. Filters, special bedding covers, and pet avoidance are some of the ways we recommend avoiding allergens. Medications can also be used to control symptoms, including antihistamines, nasal sprays, eye drops, and steroids. For patients with severe symptoms, with a poor response or side effects to medications, or who wish to reduce their dependence on medications, allergen immunotherapy can offer lasting relief.