Symptoms and causes

What is it?

Allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction of the nasal mucous membrane. It occurs in about 20 to 30% of the population.

Symptoms

  • runny nose
  • nasal congestion
  • sneezing
  • itching of the nose and eyes
  • throat pain

This excessive reaction of the nasal mucosa can be caused by the following allergens:

  • dust mites
  • grass and tree pollen
  • animals
  • ...

The symptoms can be seasonal, as is the case with a pollen allergy, or can be present year round, like in dust mite allergy.

Diagnosis and treatment

The diagnosis is made based on the symtpoms and allergy tests. The allergy tests can be performed through a blood draw or with a skin prick test. In a skin prick test, small scratches are applied to the forearm on which a drop of liquid containing an allergen (i.e. substance that can provoke an allergic reaction) is applied. If this results in a red lump, there is an allergic reaction. A control drop is also applied to the arm, which should always cause a reaction. If this is not the case, the test is not reliable (e.g. patient has taken anti-allergic medication that suppresses the reaction to the drops). That is why it is best not to take an allergy pill one for a whole week prior to the test.

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis can be prevented by avoiding the allergens or through medication.

Measures

Avoiding allergens is often very difficult, but the following measures can help:

  • house dust mite: house dust-mite proof mattress covers, wash bedding regularly (weekly) at 60°, remove carpets and cuddly toys, use a hoover with a HEPA filter
  • pollen: wear sunglasses, keep windows closed
  • pets: removing a pet from the domestic environment is not useful in the short term. Research shows that pet allergens remain in the home for years after removal and can provoke allergic symptoms.

Medicinal therapy:

Treatment centres and specialisations

Ear, nose, and throat diseases
Paediatrics

Latest publication date: 26/03/2021
Supervising author: Dr Marin Eline, Dr Degraeuwe Jelle