What is Allergic Rhinitis?
Nasal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis or hayfever, are very common. In fact, allergies are one of the most common health conditions leaving patients to seek medical attention. Symptoms of nasal allergies include stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, itchy/watery eyes, and postnasal drip. In many cases, people with nasal allergies also complained of increased difficulty with fatigue and headache.
Although most people think of allergy problems occurring in the spring and fall, allergies can occur throughout the entire year. Most people with allergy problems are allergic to pollen from plants, including trees, grasses and weeds. Plants that have very small pollen grains that are wind pollinated tend to be the plants the cause difficulty with allergies.
The protein responsible for allergies in cats and dogs is primarily found in the skin and the saliva of the pet. It is true that the protein allergen from cats and dogs will end up on the animal’s fur in the form of dander (or dried, flaked-off skin), or from the animal licking its fur. However, the fur or hair itself is really not responsible for allergy. Other factors will play a role in whether or not a specific dog or cat causes more allergy. One of these is how much dander is produced. This can be impacted by frequency of bathing and by how dry or oily the skin is. Also, how often the pet licks their fur might make a difference. How “slobbery” the pet is may also play a role.
In rodents, many of which are also popular pets, the protein allergen is found in the animal’s urine. Because of this, the allergen tends to be found throughout the litter at the bottom of the rodent’s cage. Once the animal protein allergen becomes airborne, it will remain airborne for a long time. Because of this, even without direct contact, pets can cause allergy.
People often wonder about whether molds (or fungus) in the environment can cause illness. From the standpoint of allergy, the reproductive element of mold (the spores), can cause illness, typically in the form of asthma and hayfever (nasal and eye allergies). Mold spores can be found in fairly large amounts throughout much of the year. Even in the dry Intermountain West, we do have days with significant high mold counts
In spite of the numerous cause of allergy, symptoms can be fully treated and quality-of-life is fully restored. Evaluation for allergy typically involves allergy testing. This can be done by way of an allergy skin test or blood test. The information gained by doing the allergy test can then be used to help guide therapy, including when to start and stop medications. It also opens the possibility of treatment with allergen immunotherapy otherwise known as allergy shots. Allergen immunotherapy is a treatment method that allows the person to become more tolerant to things that he/she is allergic to. Other therapies such as nasal steroid sprays and antihistamine medication can be very helpful when used in the right setting. Additionally, other treatment options such as nasal salt water rinses can sometimes also be helpful.
Why is it important to see an Allergist?
An allergist/immunologist, commonly referred to as an Allergist, is a board certified physician, who has undergone extensive training in allergy, asthma and clinical immunology beyond his/her internal medicine or pediatrics training. An Allergist in an specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of Allergies, Asthma and Immunodeficiency and related disorders. An Allergist can help you with your allergy and asthma concerns, from the simplest to the most complex problems.
What is Allergic Rhinitis?