Allergy Doctor, Atlanta, Peachtree City, Georgia
Two forms of rhinitis (hay fever) exist: allergic and non-allergic. In allergic rhinitis, your immune system identifies and targets harmless substances (allergens) as if they were harmful. Your body releases histamine and other chemicals that irritate the nose, throat, eyes, ears, skin, and mouth. Seasonal allergens involved in allergic rhinitis include pollen, dust, mold, pet dander, dust mite and cockroach droppings, smoke, and even strong odors. Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include itchy or stuffy nose, sneezing, tearing eyes, and dark circles under the eyes, which often worsen during the spring and fall. Allergic rhinitis can be identified through skin prick testing, patch testing, and blood testing.
People with non-allergic rhinitis experience runny nose and congestion, but they do not have allergies and the immune system is not involved. These symptoms sometimes occur year round.
Once allergic rhinitis and the responsible allergens have been identified, your allergist will help determine which treatment will be most effective. They may recommend immunotherapy (allergy shots) or rush immunotherapy, sublingual allergy tablets, or medications like antihistamines. If non-allergic rhinitis has been identified, then treatment options like nasal corticosteroids, nasal antihistamines, or nasal formulations may be recommended.
- Allergic rhinitis affects approximately 50 million people in the United States, and its prevalence is increasing affecting as many as 30 percent of adults and up to 40 percent of children.
- 16.9 million adults and 6.7 million children have been diagnosed with hay fever in the last year.
- More than 13.4 million visits to physician offices, hospital outpatient departments and emergency departments were due to allergic rhinitis.
- Allergic rhinitis can be seasonal or perennial. Symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis occur in spring, summer and/or early fall. They are usually caused by allergic sensitivity to pollens from trees, grasses or weeds, or to airborne mold spores. People with perennial allergic rhinitis experience symptoms year-round. It is generally caused by sensitivity to house dust mites, animal dander, cockroaches and/or mold spores. Underlying or hidden food allergies rarely cause perennial nasal symptoms.
- Once diagnosed, allergic rhinitis treatment options are: avoidance, eliminating or decreasing your exposure to the irritants or allergens that trigger your symptoms, medication and immunotherapy (allergy shots).
- Immunotherapy (allergy shots) helps reduce hay fever symptoms in about 85 percent of people with allergic rhinitis.