What are the signs and symptoms of allergic rhinitis?

Signs of allergic rhinitis are similar to signs of a common cold. But, unlike common cold symptoms, allergic rhinitis can last for more than 8-10 days and may include:

  • A stuffy nose or a runny nose.
  • Sneezing.
  • Itchy nose, itchy eyes or watery eyes.
  • Children who have alllergic rhinitis might have dark circles under their eyes, or use the palm of their hand to push their nose up as they try to stop the itching (called the "allergic salute").
  • Coughing caused by clear mucus running down the back of your throat.

What causes my allergic rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis is caused by things that trigger allergies, called allergens. These allergens can be found both outdoors and indoors. When allergic rhinitis is caused by common outdoor allergens— such as mold or trees, grass and weed pollens—it is often referred to as seasonal allergies, or "hay fever."

Allergic rhinitis may also be triggered by allergens that are in your house, such as animal dander (tiny skin flakes and saliva), indoor mold, or the droppings of cockroaches or house dust mites— tiny creatures found in the home.

  • If you have symptoms in spring, you are probably allergic to tree pollens.
  • If you have symptoms in the summer, you are probably allergic to grass and weed pollens.If you have symptoms in late summer and fall, you probably are allergic to ragweed.Dust mites, molds and animal dander (saliva or skin flakes) cause symptoms all year.
An allergist/immunologist can perform skin tests to decide for sure which allergens cause your symptoms.

What are my treatment choices?

Antihistamines and nose sprays that you buy at the store can help at first, but they can have unpleasant side effects. These antihistamines can make you tired and the nasal sprays can make your stuffiness worse. Nose sprays and antihistamines that your doctor prescribes are a different type of medicine and are very helpful for controlling symptoms. Some are safe for young children and all are safe for adults. Your allergist/immunologist will determine the medicine and treatment that is right for you.

What are allergy shots?

For some patients, allergy shots, also called immunotherapy, are very helpful, and safe. Allergy shots help how your body handles allergens. Your doctor may talk to you about allergy shots if your allergy symptoms are bad or very bad, if they happen for most of the year, if they do not respond well to medicine, and if they happen when you are around allergens that are hard to avoid, such as flower pollens or house dust mites.

Can I do anything to avoid getting allergic rhinitis?

You can change some things in your house that might make your symptoms better:

  • Although it's best not to have pets when you have allergic rhinitis, washing your furry pet once a week and keeping it out of the bedroom and off the furniture will help.
  • Put pillows, boxsprings and mattresses in sealed plastic covers that keep out dust mites, and wash sheets in hot water every week. Washing machines at the Laundromat will have hot enough water to kill the dust mites.
  • Keep windows closed. If possible, get an air conditioner and run a dehumidifier, so that there will not be so many pollens and molds in the house.
  • Anaphylaxis-

    Food Allergy

    Food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by the body's immune system. Food allergy refers to a particular type of response of the immune system in which the body produces what is called an allergic, or IgE, antibody to a food. (IgE, or immunoglobulin E, is a type of protein that works against a specific food.) Allergic reactions to food can cause serious illness and, in some cases, death. Therefore, if you have a food allergy, it is extremely important for you to work with your healthcare provider to find out what food(s) causes your allergic reaction. Sometimes, a reaction to food is not an allergy at all but another type of reaction called "food intolerance." Food intolerance is more common than food allergy. The immune system does not cause the symptoms of food intolerance, though these symptoms may look and feel like those of a food allergy.

    Food allergy affects up to 6 to 8 percent of children under the age of 3 and close to 4 percent of adults. If you have an unpleasant reaction to something you have eaten, you might wonder if you have a food allergy. One out of three people either believe they have a food allergy or modify their or their family's diet. Thus, while food allergy is commonly suspected, healthcare providers diagnose it less frequently than most people believe.

    A potentially life-threatening reaction

    What is anaphylaxis?

    Anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-LAK-sis) is a serious allergic reaction that can cause death. It can happen in people who have allergies or asthma, and it may be caused by a number of normally harmless things called allergens. Most often it is caused by foods, insect stings and medicines.

    Anaphylactic signs (or symptoms) usually do not happen the first time you are near the allergen. That's because it can take some time for your body to build up a dislike for the allergen. Signs of anaphylaxis usually start in 5 to 30 minutes of coming in contact with the allergen. But, sometimes symptoms can begin after 1 hour. An anaphylactic reaction can make it hard to breathe, or cause you to pass out. It can even cause death. That's why anaphylaxis is always an emergency. It is important to know when anaphylaxis is happening, how to treat it and how to stop it from happening again.

    What are the signs of anaphylaxis?

    Signs of anaphylaxis usually include several of the following:
    • A red rash, with welts, that usually is itchy.
    • Swollen throat or swollen areas of the body.
    • Wheezing (breathing that sounds like whistling from your chest).
    • Passing out.
    • Chest tightness.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • A hoarse voice.
    • Trouble swallowing.
    • Vomiting.
    • Diarrhea.
    • Abdominal cramping.
    • A pale or red color to the face and body.

    Anaphylaxis is a dangerous medical emergency that can lead to death. If you think you or your child may be having an anaphylactic reaction, call 9-1-1 to get immediate help.

    Is anaphylaxis common?

    Each year, about 40 people die after an anaphylactic reaction to insect stings, and about 100 people die from reactions to food.

    How do you treat anaphylaxis?

    If you have an anaphylactic reaction, you should see an allergist/immunologist to write a treatment plan for your allergies. An allergist/immunologist is a doctor who has special training to treat allergies and asthma. The treatment plan will help you figure out how to avoid the allergens that could lead to anaphylaxis:

    • If you have food allergies, avoid those foods. Milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish and tree nuts are the foods that most often cause anaphylaxis in people who are allergic to these foods.
    • If you are allergic to latex, do not use natural rubber latex products, such as gloves or balloons. * If you have severe insect allergy, avoid spending time outside during insect season. Ask your doctor about receiving insect venom immunotherapy (allergy shots) to protect you against future reactions.

    If you are so severely allergic to something that it can trigger an anaphlactic reaction, you will probably always need to be on the lookout for that trigger and carry epinephrine that can be used to control anaphylaxis. If you are so severely allergic to something that it can trigger an anaphylactic reaction, you will probably always need to be on the lookout for that trigger and carry epinephrine that can be used to control anaphylaxis.

    If you have think you may be having an anaphylactic reaction, you should:

    1- Use your autoinjectable epinephrine.
    2- Call 9-1-1, even if you think your reaction is under control.