Q&A

 

What is allergic rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis is a condition that occurs when the body's immune system overreacts to a stimulus that it perceives as an “invader,” producing symptoms like a runny nose, watery or itchy eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion and itchy skin or mouth. Allergic rhinitis can occur seasonally in response to molds and pollen, or it can occur all year long, usually in response to triggers like pet dander, molds, dust mites or roaches. Some people refer to allergic rhinitis as “hay fever.”

How can Dr. Johnson diagnose allergic rhinitis?

Most cases of allergic rhinitis can be diagnosed based on your symptoms and your personal health history. In a few cases, though, lab tests like skin or blood tests may be needed to narrow down the causes of your allergic symptoms and to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. When symptoms prove especially troublesome, Dr. Johnson may order x ray or an rhinoscopy to look for sinus infection or for signs of fleshy growths called polyps that can cause symptoms to persist.

What treatments are available?

Most people respond well to nasal sprays or oral medications – or both – designed to relieve symptoms, but others need to have allergy shots to help them become desensitized to triggers like mold, pollen or pet dander.

Is there anything I can do to prevent allergic rhinitis?

The most effective thing you can do to prevent flareups is to avoid the triggers that cause your symptoms to occur. Investing in a household or room air filtration system with a HEPA filter, avoiding secondhand smoke or staying indoors when the pollen count is high are all steps that could potentially decrease some symptoms. When you know you'll be in environments where exposures are likely, carrying a nasal spray with you can help relieve symptoms before they become more significant.

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