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Allergic Rhinitis/Hay Fever

What is allergic rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis, often called allergies or hay fever, is when a person's immune system overreacts to certain particles in the air and that person experiences a range of symptoms.

It is among the most common chronic conditions worldwide, affecting 10-30% of the population, and up to 12% of children in the United States.

Statistics include:

  • 80% of cases develop before age 20 years.
  • Boys outnumber girls 2:1, both sexes affected equally in adulthood.
  • 28 million days of reduced function or productivity annually.
  • 3.5 million lost workdays.
  • 2 million lost school days due to absenteeism.

It is important to treat allergy symptoms effectively because, left untreated, they can lead to important complication such as:

  • Aggravation of asthma
  • Sinusitis
  • Ear infections
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Poor concentration
  • Learning impairments

What are the symptoms of allergic rhinitis?

Symptoms start after breathing in an allergen. The symptoms can last a few days or longer depending on exposure to the allergen. Symptoms can vary in severity and speed of onset.

Symptoms include sneezing, nasal itching, nasal congestion, rhinorrhea (runny nose), mouth breathing, post-nasal discharge and associated eye/conjunctival symptoms. These symptoms often interfere with breathing and other normal tasks.

What causes allergic rhinitis?

Various types of allergens can cause allergic rhinitis and a patient may be allergic to one or several of them. Some of the more common allergens for allergic rhinitis are mold, dust mites, animal dander and cockroaches. Irritation in the nose or lungs can compound any allergic reaction.

What is the treatment for allergic rhitinis?

If you or your child has allergy symptoms, an allergist can help with a diagnosis and determination of environmental triggers, provide recommendations on avoiding triggers, and prescribe medications to help you feel better and have fewer complications. We also can help with the diagnosis and optimal management of non-allergic and vasomotor rhinitis.