Rhinitis, nicknamed "hayfever" or "sinus trouble" is a medical term that refers to inflammation of the membranes that line the nose. Frequently, there is inflammation of the surrounding membranes -- sinuses, throat, eyes, and ears. As a result of this, you may end up with one or several familiar symptoms such as a runny or blocked nose, itchy eyes, sinus congestion, sneezing, headache, fluid in the ears and ear infections, and postnasal drip leading to frequent sore throats, cough, or clearing of your throat.
One of the more common types of rhinitis is called allergic rhinitis, which is made up of two distinct types:
- Seasonal, typically known as hayfever, occurring only at certain times of the year.
- Perennial, occurring year-round.
Allergic rhinitis symptoms are the result of exposure to inhaled allergens such as animal danders, hair and saliva, pollen from trees, grass and weeds, molds, mites, or dust. These allergens then come in contact with sensitizing antibodies (proteins of immune system) located on the surface of specialized cells (mast cells), in which there are granules of chemicals called histamine. When the allergen and the antibody come in contact, the histamine is released from the cells which then cause stuffy or runny nose, itchy ears or throat, sinus congestions, sneezing, headaches, and/or watery red eyes.
If you are diagnosed with allergic rhinitis, your treatment may include avoidance of the off ending allergen, oral medications such as antihistamines and decongestants, or topical medications depending on your medical history. You may also benefit from immunotherapy -- typically called allergy shots, where you receive injections of specific allergens.
Another form of rhinitis is called vasomotor rhinitis, also known as nonallergic rhinitis. We can make this diagnosis following your skin test, when the specific allergens you were tested for did not elicit a sizable skin reaction. In most cases the patient diagnosed with vasomotor rhinitis has symptoms similar to the allergic rhinitis patient. However, the vasomotor rhinitis patient has no allergies and no sensitivities to the specific allergens.
The likely cause of these symptoms is direct contact with irritants such as smoke, fumes, odors, or changes in the atmosphere. If you are diagnosed with vasomotor rhinitis, your treatment may include limiting exposure to offending irritants, prescribed decongestants, or topical medications depending on your medical history. Allergy shots are not effective in treating this form of rhinitis.
Chemical rhinitis is also called rhinitis medicamentosa or drug-induced rhinitis. Over-the-counter topical decongestants (nasal sprays) used to treat allergies are the cause of chemical rhinitis. Some examples of these decongestants are Afrin, NeoSynephrine, and Duration.
The over-the-counter nose sprays do give immediate relief by constricting, or narrowing the vessels in your nose. However, "rebound" swelling of the lining of the nose occurs and worsens the discomfort. The more you spray, the less the response, and the more you need to spray. The over-the-counter nasal sprays should not be confused with physician prescribed nose sprays. These sprays requires more regular use over a longer period, usually 1-3 weeks. These sprays do not cause the undesirable "rebound" effect.
Allergic Evaluation & Therapy
Ultimately, what most allergy sufferers seek is long-term relief. There are treatments that successfully control reactions to and symptoms of these allergies. The three most effective measures for controlling an allergic condition are:
- Environmental control (avoiding the offending agent)
- Medications to control the symptoms
- injection therapy (also known as immunotherapy)
Environmental control, means that you change or eliminate the offending agent in your home and work area. Our staff can share with you a number of ways to control your environment based on your own circumstances.
Additionally, medication may also be included in your therapy if your skin test results, evaluation, and medical history demonstrate the need. The range of medications can be quite numerous, depending on what condition you may have. We closely monitor your medications throughout your treatment to ensure the best follow through for your condition.
And of course, injection therapy can prove an effective treatment. This is the series of shots prescribed to build-up blocking antibodies in your system and reduce the severity of your symptoms over the long-term. It is the only way known to alter the allergic state of the patient. Your progress is monitored very closely by our team of physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and medical assistants to ensure that you have the best possible care.