It may happen during a particular season, or it may be a year-long struggle. If your allergy-like symptoms are driving you batty and you can’t seem to escape them, there may be something else at play. Rhinitis, or “hay fever,” as it’s often called, could be wreaking havoc on your body without you even knowing it. In fact, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, nearly eight percent of adults in the United States, and between 10 and 30 percent of adults worldwide, suffer from hay fever.1 Before you can successfully treat this condition, though, you need to know how it affects your body.
What Is Rhinitis?
Rhinitis is a condition where your immune system overreacts to otherwise harmless foreign substances. These substances can vary widely, but many are common root causes of allergies, leading many people who have hay fever to chalk up their symptoms to allergies instead. If your symptoms seem extreme for mere allergies, it may be best to visit a physician to determine if you have hay fever. There are two types of rhinitis:
- Seasonal rhinitis is exacerbated by allergens common during transitional seasons like spring and fall. This type of rhinitis is typically mistaken for severe allergies. Usually, the allergen that causes seasonal rhinitis is pollen from trees, grass and flowers. Some other seasonal allergens may also be at play, though.
- Perennial rhinitis is in response to allergens that can be present all year long, causing allergy-like symptoms year-round. These allergens often include pet dander, bug droppings, mold, cigarette smoke or perfume.
What Symptoms Are Associated with Rhinitis?
The symptoms of hay fever are often mistaken for allergy symptoms. After all, they are both extremely similar conditions. Contrary to popular belief, though, hay fever is not only caused by hay and often doesn’t present itself as a fever. Despite the misnomer, it’s relatively easy for your doctor to determine if you have the condition. Be on the lookout for symptoms like:
- Itchy, runny nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Itchy mouth or throat
- Incessant sneezing or coughing
- Sinus or nasal congestion
To determine if you have rhinitis or allergies, you’ll need to visit an allergist for diagnostic examination. Usually, a physical exam is enough to determine if you have minor allergies. To diagnose hay fever, though, your physician may perform an allergen or blood test to examine how severely your body reacts to a particular allergen.
How Can I Treat Rhinitis?
Unfortunately, rhinitis has no easy, fast, one-size-fits-all cure. Treatments and management plans will vary based on the severity of a person’s allergen response and their personal commitment to treatments plans. People with hay fever can control their symptoms with eye drops, nasal sprays, antihistamines or decongestants available over-the-counter. However, for those who can’t find relief through medication, immunotherapy may be a more effective treatment option.
Immunotherapy continuously exposes your immune system to the problem allergen to condition your body into reducing its reaction. The more it is exposed, the more used to the allergen your immune system becomes, reducing your body’s symptoms. Your body can undergo immunotherapy for a year or more before you notice a reduced or eliminated response to the allergen, so this course of action requires resolve and dedication. However, because everyone’s rhinitis is different, your physician may recommend a shorter- or longer-than-average treatment period.
Feel Better Faster With Allergy & ENT Associates
Rhinitis may seem like a minor inconvenience, but constant sniffling, sneezing and fitful sleeping due to labored breathing can take a significant toll on your quality of life. If you’re tired of dealing with endless allergic reactions to various allergens or irritants, you don’t have to be resigned to a life of coughing and itching. At Allergy & ENT Associates, we’ve been helping Houston area residents breathe easier for more than 60 years. Our experienced allergists and physicians can assist you with all your upper respiratory needs, from rhinitis to asthma and more. Contact us online or call (713) MY-SINUS to schedule your appointment today!