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Allergic Rhinitis

Definition of Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is an inflammation of the nasal passages, usually associated with watery nasal discharge and itching of the nose and eyes.

Description of Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis affects about 20 percent of the American population and ranks as one of the most common illnesses in the U.S. The symptoms occur in the nose and eyes and usually occur after exposure to dust, danders, or certain seasonal pollens in people that are allergic to these substances.

Two-thirds of all patients have symptoms of allergic rhinitis before the age of 30, but onset can occur at any age. Allergic rhinitis has no sexual predilection, although boys up to the age of 10 are twice as likely to have symptoms as girls.

There is strong genetic predisposition to allergic rhinitis. One parent with a history of allergic rhinitis has about a 30 percent chance of producing offspring with the disorder; the risk increases to 50 percent if both parents have a history of allergies.

Patients can be severely restricted in their daily activities, resulting in excessive time away from school or work. Millions of dollars are spent each year on physician services and medication for treatment of this chronic illness.

Causes and Risk Factors of Allergic Rhinitis
Many perennial and seasonal allergens cause allergic rhinitis.

Dust mites, cockroaches, molds and animal dander, are examples of year-around allergens.

Tree, grass and ragweed pollens are primarily seasonal outdoor allergens. Seasonal pollens depend on wind for cross-pollination. Plants that depend on insect pollination, such as goldenrod and dandelions, do not usually cause allergic rhinitis.

Mold spores grow in warm, damp environments. The highest mold spore counts occur in early spring, late summer and early fall, but mold spores can be measured indoors year-around.

Animal allergens are also important indoor allergens. The major cat allergen is secreted through the sebaceous glands of the animal's skin. These small, light proteins are capable of staying suspended in the air for up to six hours and can be measured for several months after a cat is removed from an indoor environment.

Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis

Characteristic symptoms include repetitive sneezing; rhinorrhea (runny nose); post-nasal drip; nasal congestion; pruritic (itchy) eyes, ears, nose or throat; and generalized fatigue. Symptoms can also include wheezing, eye tearing, sore throat, and impaired smell. A chronic cough may be secondary to postnasal drip, but should not be mistaken for asthma. Sinus headaches and ear plugging are also common

Diagnosis of Allergic Rhinitis

After a medical history, your physician will perform a physical exam. Often, the nasal mucosa (lining of the nose) is pale or violaceous because of the engorged veins. Nasal polyps may be seen. Classic signs of allergic rhinitis may include swelling of the eyelids, injected sclerae (the whites of the eyes may be red), allergic shiners (darkened areas under the lower eyelids thought to result from venous pooling of blood), and extra skin folds in the lower eyelids.

Skin testing may confirm the diagnosis of allergic rhinitis. Initial skin testing is performed by the prick method. Intradermal testing is performed if results of prick testing are negative.

NOTE: Homoeopathy treats the disorder effectively and permanently.