Allergic rhinitis occurs when the nose and the ears, eyes, sinuses, and throat come into contact with an allergy causing substance. Common allergens are pollens, molds, dust, and animal dander. Common symptoms of allergic rhinitis include itchy, runny nose, sneezing, nasal and head congestion. Other symptoms can be fatigue and lethargy, itchy throat, postnasal drainage, itchy, and watery eyes.
You can be diagnosed with allergies based on symptoms or there are skin scratch or prick tests. Allergy tests are expensive. Your healthcare provider will probably recommend that you try treating your symptoms with medicine first. If medicines do not control your symptoms, you may need allergy tests to see if allergy shots might help you.
How are allergies treated?
The first step is to try to avoid contact with the things you are allergic to. An example is putting plastic covers on mattresses may help you avoid dust and mold. You may also cover pillows with plastic.
The second step is treatment with medicine. Such as try decongestants for mild symptoms. You may have some side effects from decongestants, such as a rapid heart rate or trouble sleeping. Sometimes these medicines can also raise your blood pressure.
There are several steroid nose sprays that can be used daily to treat or prevent symptoms. A different and nonprescription nose spray containing a medicine called cromolyn is also available. Depending on your other allergy symptoms, a nose spray may be the first and only medicine you need.
Antihistamine medicines can help treat and prevent allergy symptoms. Drowsiness is a common side effect. This may not be a problem if a dose at bedtime is all you need. Or you might try the medicine for several days despite the drowsiness. Often the drowsiness goes away after you have taken the drug for 3 to 5 days. Or you may want to try the newer antihistamines which don’t cause drowsiness. Some antihistamines require a prescription. Others you can buy without a prescription.
Some people take antihistamines only on the days they are having symptoms. Others start the medicine at the beginning of their usual allergy season and continue taking it until the season is over.
If your symptoms are severe in spite of medicines, we may suggest allergy shots. Usually after 4 to 6 months of allergy shots you will begin to have relief from your allergies. However, you will probably need to continue the shots for 2 to 3 years or longer. Proper treatment of allergy symptoms is the best way to prevent complications of allergic rhinitis, such as ear and sinus infections.
Allergies can stay with you forever. New allergies can develop any time, even if you have not had allergies before. Allergy symptoms depend not only on the season and weather but also on where you live. This means your allergies may come and go, depending on where you are living.