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What is it?
Rhinitis may be either seasonal or perennial. Seasonal rhinitis is commonly known as heyfever and is an allergy to pollen. Perennial rhinitis occurs all year round and is an adverse reaction to airborne allergens. Both have the same symptoms.
Symptoms: Sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, intermittent blocked nose
Causes: Hayfever is usually due to sensitivity to grass, weed or tree pollen. Perennial rhinitis is caused by an allergic reaction to house dust mites, animal fur, feathers etc. An allergy to cow’s milk may also cause rhinitis.
Possible complications: Allergic rhinitis has a strong association with asthma.
Treatment in the home: Antihistamines alleviate symptoms and are available from your pharmacy without prescription; some antihistamines may cause drowsiness and should not be used with alcohol or when driving or using machinery. Decongestant nasal drops and sprays can provide rapid relief from symptoms. Do not use continuously for more than ten days, as they may eventually aggravate the very symptoms they are suppose to relieve. Keep bedroom and car doors closed during hayfever season. Damp dust and keep pets outdoors. Avoid sudden changes in temperature, chemical irritants and noxious fumes. Smoking is a respiratory irritant and sufferers and their families should not smoke. If prescribed, take preventative medicine regularly according to your doctor’s instructions.
When to consult a doctor: If the symptoms are persistent and severe.
What the doctor may do: Take clinical history and do a physical examination to exclude other causes of the symptoms. Arrange for a skin test to identify the allergens that are causing the symptoms. Prescribe symptom-suppressing medication in the form of tablets, nasal sprays or drops. Prescribe a course of desensitization injections if the specific allergen that is causing the rhinitis has been identified. Prescribe a preventative treatment in the form of oral medication or nasal spray.