Allergic Rhinitis

  What Is Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis (also called "hay fever") develops when you breathe air that holds tiny particles that you are allergic to, and the inside of your nose becomes inflamed or swollen and mucous production increases.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Allergic Rhinitis?
Signs of allergic rhinitis are similar to signs of a common cold. But, unlike common cold symptoms, allergic rhinitis can last more than 10-14 days. Symptoms may include stuffy/runny nose, sneezing, itchy nose, itchy or watery eyes, and coughing produced by clear mucous running down the back of the throat ("post nasal drip").

What Causes Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis is caused by things that trigger allergies, called allergens. Allergens can be found both outdoors and indoors. When allergic rhinitis is caused by common outdoor allergens--such as mold or trees, grass and weed pollens--it is often referred to as seasonal allergies, or "hay fever". Indoor allergens that can trigger allergic rhinitis include animal dander (tiny flakes and saliva), indoor mold, or the droppings of cockroaches or dust mites (tiny creatures found in the home). When indicated by symptom severity or failure of symptom improvement despite conscientious compliance with a reasonable medical plan your pediatrician may suggest that an allergist/immunologist complete a more thorough, comprehensive evaluation to determine which specific allergens are responsible for your child's symptoms.

How Is Allergic Rhinitis Treated?
Avoidance of allergens is an important part of treating allergic rhinitis. In situations where avoidance is not possible (trees blooming, etc), antihistamines can be very helpful and several of these medications are available as over-the-counter products. Decongestant nose sprays which are also available over-the-counter can be helpful to relieve a runny nose. Overuse of such sprays, however, can lead to worsening nasal congestion when the product is discontinued. Corticosteroid nose sprays, which are prescription medicines, can reduce allergic inflammation and help alleviate symptoms. It is important to consult with your pediatrician regarding the most appropriate treatment plan for your child.

How Can I Learn More About Allergic Rhinitis?
Organizations that can provide more information on allergic rhinitis include:

American Academy of Asthma Allergy, and Immunology

American Academy of Pediatrics

American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

Allergy and Asthma Network/Mothers of Asthmatics