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Allergic rhinitis has many terms - the condition is known as hay fever, allergic rhinitis, seasonal rhinitis, rhinitis, pollinosis, hay fever and pollen allergy. Find out about the causes, symptoms and treatments of allergic rhinitis. How to effectively treat hay fever?

Allergic rhinitisis an inflammation of the mucosa manifested by sneezing, runny nose, itchy nose and nasal obstruction. This commonatopic diseaseis caused by pollen secreted by the flower stamens of grasses, trees, and herbs. According to estimates, every fourth person suffers from allergic rhinitis. It is worth remembering that this is a chronic disease that requires specialist treatment.

Allergic rhinitisis becoming more and more common. Research indicates significant differences in the frequency of the appearance of rhinitis symptoms depending on the place of residence. In ecologically clean areas, the occurrence of allergies is less frequent, while in large, polluted cities, the chance of developing this ailment has almost doubled.

For example, the presence of rhinitis symptoms was found in 23.8% of adult residents of Krasnystaw County, and in 42.9% of Warsaw residents or 45.8% of Wrocław residents. According to the report "The impact of air pollution on the incidence of inflammations of the nasal mucosa and paranasal sinuses" prepared as part of the 11th edition of the nationwide campaign "He althy Bay", the most polluted provinces in Poland include Dolnośląskie, Opolskie, Śląskie and Kujawsko-Pomorskie.

Allergic rhinitis - causes

Allergic rhinitis is the result of two groups of factors: genetic predisposition to allergies and contact with an allergen that causes undesirable symptoms of allergy. The most important allergens that cause allergic rhinitis are:

  • pollen (trees, grasses, herbs, shrubs and flowers)
  • mold
  • dust mites
  • animal hair
  • feathers

Allergic rhinitisoccurs when an allergen in the form of plant pollen combines with IgE-class immunoglobulins secreted by the allergy's body, forming a complex that attaches itself toto histamine-storing mast cells. Then histamine is released and symptoms of nasal mucosa irritation occur.

Allergic rhinitis - symptoms

Common symptoms of hay fever are:

  • heavy, runny nasal discharge
  • multiple sneezes
  • nose itching
  • stuffy nose
  • headache
  • conjunctivitis manifested by:
    • tearing
    • reddening
    • itching
    • photophobia

Symptoms of pollinosisusually develop when you are out and about, for example while walking. The pollen season begins in early spring. In order to determine the cause of undesirable allergy symptoms, it is worth recording the moment of their severity and comparing your observations with the pollen calendar of plants.

Each plant with allergenic properties pollen in a strictly defined time. It is worth remembering that complications of hay fever may lead to the onset of bronchial asthma, as the resistance of the nasal mucosa is impaired.

Allergy and sinusitis

After contact with the allergenic substance, first a runny nose and sneezing appear, then there is swelling of the nasal mucosa, which leads to the closure of the sinus openings. Prolonged exposure to the allergen may cause mucosal hypertrophy and permanently narrow or even obstruct the paranasal sinuses. There is no free flow of air between the sinuses and the nose, which favors the development of infections.

Good to know: Sinusitis: causes, symptoms and treatment

Allergic rhinitis. Diagnosis of hay fever

The diagnosis of pollinosisbegins with an ENT examination. The doctor examines the nasal cavity and finds that there is swelling in the nasal mucosa, as well as bruising or reddening of the mucosa. If he suspects allergic rhinitis, he or she orders tests. These are skin tests that are performed in an allergist's office. Skin tests involve putting on the skin or introducing into it various substances that cause allergies.

The concentration of allergens is very low. Next, tests are used to assess the reaction to histamine and the size of the lesions at the site of the allergen application. Determining the cause of allergic rhinitis is very easy, because redness or a blisterappears after contact with the substance that causes the allergic reaction . If in doubt, your doctor may order computed tomography of the paranasal sinuses.

Allergic rhinitis - treatment

In the treatment of allergiesit is extremely importantto avoid allergensand to control or completelyeliminate symptomssensitization. For the treatment to be effective, the allergens responsible for the undesirable symptoms must be identified early.

Then you should choose the drugs according to the needs of the patient. In the treatment of allergic rhinitis, mainly antihistamines are used to block the mechanism of allergy. Additionally, you can use medications that decongest the blood vessels in the nasal mucosa. However, these drugs can be used for a short time, not longer than a week.

In addition to medications, desensitization is used in the treatment of allergic rhinitis, which consists in administering higher and higher doses of allergens to raise the sensitivity threshold to these substances. Thanks to desensitization, the symptoms of allergy are alleviated. In addition, it is worth taking care to minimize contact with allergens - staying outside the home during the period of the highest pollen concentration should be limited to rainy days.

Allergic rhinitis: antihistamines

A special role in symptomatic therapy is played by antihistamines (oral, nasal, conjunctival), such as loratadine, desloratadine, levocetirizine, chlorphenamine, triprolidine and many others.

All antihistamines have a similar mechanism of action which they counteract:

  • itchy nose
  • sneezing
  • watery runny nose
  • bronchospasm
  • skin rash and redness

Antihistamines have a weak anti-swelling effect, therefore, effective treatment of nasal blockage in the course of AR requires combining antihistamines with vasoconstrictors (e.g. oxymetazoline, pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine).

Allergic rhinitis: α-sympathomimetics

Theα-sympathomimetics, i.e. nasal decongestants, such as nasally administered oxymetazoline or orally administered pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine, are also helpful in combating the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. As a result of their action, the congestion of the mucosa is reduced, which in turn reduces its swelling and reduces the feeling of stuffy nose.

The therapeutic effect of pseudoephedrine occurs 15-30 minutes after oral administration and lasts for at least 4 hours. Sympathomimetics are highly effective against nasal blockage, but are practically ineffective against histamine-dependent symptoms (itching, sneezing, watery discharge, and ocular symptoms). Therefore, they are often used together with an antihistamine.

Allergic rhinitis:isotonic and hypertonic solutions

S alt solutions (isotonic and hypertonic) or sea water solutions are especially useful in therapy in young children due to their high safety and good tolerability. Solutions are used as supportive care. They work by cleaning the nasal cavity of dust, allergens and helping to remove mucus. Hypertonic solutions also show an anti-edema effect.

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