Allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction that happens when your immune system overreacts to substances that you have inhaled, such as pollen. The two types of allergic rhinitis are seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and perennial allergic rhinitis, which occurs year-round. Hay fever is caused by outdoor allergens. Perennial allergic rhinitis is caused by indoor allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold.

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis resemble a cold, but they are not caused by a virus the way a cold is. When you breathe in an allergen, your immune system springs into action. It releases substances known as IgEs into your nasal passages, along with inflammatory chemicals such as histamines. Your nose, sinuses, or eyes may become itchy and congested. Scientists aren't sure what causes your immune system to overreact to an allergen.

Signs and Symptoms
Stuffy, runny nose.


Red, itchy, and watery eyes.

Swollen eyelids.

Itchy mouth, throat, ears, and face.

Sore throat.

Headaches, facial pain or pressure.

Partial loss of hearing, smell, and taste.


Dark circles under the eyes.

The best way to reduce symptoms is to prevent exposure to allergens, complementary and alternative therapies may be used to treat the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Your doctor may recommend immunotherapy, or "allergy shots." With this treatment, you receive regular injections of an allergen, with each dose being slightly larger than the previous dose. Your immune system should gradually get used to the allergen so that it no longer reacts to it.


Available in both oral and nasal spray forms, work by blocking the release of histamine in your body. Include diphenhydramine (Benadryl), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), clemastine (Tavist).
These older antihistamines can cause sleepiness. Loratadine (Claritin), cetrizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenadine (Allegra) do not cause as much drowsiness as older antihistamines.
Longer-acting antihistamines usually taken once a day, as desloratadine (Clarinex).

Available in pill or nasal spray form. They are often used with antihistamines.

Oral and nasal decongestants
Include Sudafed, Actifed, Afrin, Neo-Synephrine. Some decongestants may contain pseudoephedrine, which can raise blood pressure. People with high blood pressure or enlarged prostate should not take drugs containing pseudoephedrine. Using nasal decongestant sprays for more than 3 days can cause "rebound congestion," which makes congestion worse. Avoid using nasal decongestant sprays for more than 3 days in a row, unless your doctor tells you to.

Nasal corticosteroids
These prescription sprays reduce inflammation of the nose and help relieve sneezing, itching, and runny nose. It may take a few days to a week to see improvement in symptoms.
Beclomethasone (Beconase).

Fluticasone (Flonase).

Mometasone (Nasonex).

Triacinolone (Nasacort).

Leukotriene modifiers
block the production of leukotrienes, which are inflammatory chemicals produced by the body. They are taken once a day and do not cause sleepiness, and are also used to treat allergic asthma. include montelukast (Singulair) and zafirlukast (Accolate).

Cromolyn sodium (NasalCrom)
This over-the-counter nasal spray prevents the release of histamine and helps relieve swelling and runny nose. It works best when taken before symptoms start and may needed to be used several times a day.

Nasal atropine
Ipratropium bromide (Atrovent) is a prescription nasal spray that can help relieve a very runny nose. People with glaucoma or an enlarged prostate should not use Atrovent.

Eye drops
Antihistamine eye drops - relieve both nasal and eye symptoms. Examples include azelastine, olopatadine, ketotifen, and levocabastine.

Decongestant eye drops - such as phenylephrine and naphazoline Nasal irrigation or nasal lavage can help reduce symptoms of allergic rhinitis, studies show. One study found that doing nasal irrigation three times a day reduced allergy symptoms after about 3 - 6 weeks. To do nasal irrigation, you can use a neti pot, bulb syringe, or squeeze bottle to flush out nasal passages with salt water.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid the following:
Decongestants, unless you ask your doctor.

High doses of vitamin C.

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