Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever)

Allergic rhinitis is inflammation (itis) of the nose (rhino) caused by allergy. It’s commonly known as hay fever.

With around one in five of us in Australia suffering from hay fever at some time, it’s perhaps the best-known and most common of all allergies. The prevalence of hay fever in Australia has almost doubled in the past 15 years.

Many of us suffer sneezes and sniffles when we’re gardening or cleaning the house, petting the cat or dog, or at certain times of the year. Notice all the ads for antihistamines in Spring? Some of us suffer hay fever all too frequently. Symptoms often first appear in childhood and adolescence.

Hay fever can exacerbate other conditions, such as asthma and sinusitis. It can even contribute to dental problems, which are five times more common in mouth breathers.

Causes

The allergens that can trigger hay fever include:

  • dust mites, cockroaches and other insects
  • contact with grasses and other plants
  • pollens from grasses, trees and weeds
  • contact with animals
  • animal dander (skin flakes) and saliva
  • mould spores

Complications of allergic rhinitis can greatly effect quality of life causing sleep disturbance and daytime tiredness, headaches, poor concentration, recurrent ear infections in children, recurrent sinus infections in adults and in some cases asthma which can be more difficult to control.

The proteins found in a pet’s dander, skin flakes, saliva and urine can cause an allergic reaction or aggravate asthma symptoms in some people. Also, pet hair or fur can collect pollen, mould spores and other outdoor allergens.

Contrary to popular opinion, there are no truly “hypoallergenic breeds” of dogs or cats. Allergic dander in cats and dogs is not affected by length of hair or fur, nor by the amount of shedding.

Treatment

Once the allergen has been correctly identified, allergic rhinitis symptoms can be effectively managed and treated in a number of ways. Depending on the allergen, severity and frequency, treatment options include:

  • managing/avoiding allergic triggers
  • antihistamines
  • corticosteroids
  • saline nasal sprays
  • immunotherapy or desensitisation
  • hot washing of bedding
  • non-allergenic bedding covers

Allergy Medical helps many patients to better manage existing medical conditions by better managing their allergies. To see how we could help you, just ask us.

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