Allergic rhinitis is a condition of the nose where there is inflammation and excess mucus production in response to certain harmless substances (allergens) that are usually airborne and inhaled. There are two types of allergic rhinitis – seasonal which only arises at certain times in a year and perennial which persists for most of the year.
The term ‘hay fever’ actually refers to seasonal allergic rhinitis but these days it is used to describe both types. Rhinitis is marked by a runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion. However, not every case of rhinitis is allergic in nature. When it is allergy-related, it is caused by immune dysfunction that is trigger by animal hair (dander), pollen, dust (house dust mite) and cockroach particles.
Allergic rhinitis may be accompanied by sinusitis and post nasal drip.
Diet and Lifestyle
- The key is to avoid the allergens as far as possible. This means not keeping pets within the home, regular cleaning, using mattress protectors to prevent house dust mite infestation and removing carpets from the home where possible.
- Foods (ingested allergens) are not a major trigger as with airborne particles (inhaled allergens). Cold and spicy foods may be irritants but not allergens. Dairy, nuts, wheat, egg yolk and soy may trigger allergic rhinitis and other allergic conditions (like asthma and eczema) in children and should therefore be avoided.
- Cigarette smoke, air pollution and strong fragrances may other be irritants that need to be minimized.
- Saline nasal sprays may offer some relief, as well as nasal irrigation with a neti pot.
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