Allergic rhinitis or hay fever causes a group of symptoms that affect the nose. Individuals who have allergic rhinitis typically experience symptoms after inhaling allergy-causing substances such as dust or pollen. During the fall season, the common allergen is ragweed while grasses and pollen are the usual triggers during the spring season.
Once a highly sensitive individual inhales an allergen, the immune system reacts by releasing chemicals that are responsible for triggering the following symptoms:
- Stuffed nose due to congestion or blockage
- Itchiness usually in the mouth, nose, skin, eyes or throat
- Puffy, swollen eyelids
It is important to note that the symptoms can also be triggered by exposure to common irritants such as cigarette smoke, cosmetics, strong odors such as perfume or hair spray, laundry detergents and cleaning solutions, vehicle exhaust, pool chlorine and other air pollutants.
What are the two types of allergic rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis has two forms that you should be familiar with – seasonal allergic rhinitis and perennial allergic rhinitis. Both have their differences that set them apart.
Seasonal allergic rhinitis typically occurs during the spring, summer and early fall. This form is triggered by sensitivity to the airborne pollen from grasses, weeds or trees as well as mold spores. With this in mind, a highly sensitive individual should avoid the outdoors during the peak pollen count.
Perennial allergic rhinitis causes symptoms that occur throughout the year and typically triggered by sensitivity to pet dander, mold, cockroaches and dust mites.
It is important to note that allergic rhinitis can be linked with limited activities, diminished level of focus and concentration, irritability, difficulty remembering things, diminished decision-making capacity, impaired hand-eye coordination, fatigue, sleeping disorders, increased risk for motor vehicle accidents, missed days at school or work and increased risk for work or school injuries.
Children with allergic rhinitis
Parents of children who have allergic rhinitis claim that their children are irritable and moody during the allergy season. Since children cannot readily express their symptoms verbally, they might express their discomfort by acting up at home and at school. Additionally, some children feel that having an allergy separates them from others.
Considerations to bear in mind
Irritability or other symptoms triggered by nose, ear or throat issues should not be mistaken for attention deficit disorder. With appropriate treatment, the symptoms of allergic rhinitis can be managed and any disruptions in behavior and learning can be avoided.
Remember that the symptoms of allergic rhinitis have other possible causes as well, with the common cold as the most common. Most cases of infections are usually short-lived with symptoms that improve within 3-7 days.
Many individuals have chronic or recurrent nasal congestion, itching, excess mucus production and other nasal symptoms similar to allergic rhinitis. In such circumstances, an allergy is not the exact cause.