Allergic rhinitis (or hay fever) is a seasonal condition that causes signs and symptoms similar to those of a runny nose: a runny nose, itchy eyes, headaches, sneezing, difficulty breathing, and inflammation of the mucous membrane in the sinuses.
Unlike a cold, hay fever is not caused by a virus.
Allergic rhinitis is caused by a reaction to various allergens that are inside rooms or outdoors, such as pollen, dust mites or pet dander.
Hay fever can make you unhappy, affect performance at work and school, and also interfere with leisure activities.
One does not have to endure the annoying symptoms, but should learn to avoid the triggers and find the right treatment that relieves or eliminates the symptoms.
The name hay fever is commonly used to describe allergic rhinitis, but this is not correct because this disease has nothing to do with hay, but with other allergens.
What are the causes of spring allergy?
The allergies of spring are caused by the pollen of trees, which, depending on the climate and location, can pollinate the trees at any time between January/February and April.
Known trees that cause serious allergies are: oak, olive, elm, birch, ash, poplar, maple, cypress, walnut, etc. In some areas of the world there are weeds that send out their pollen in spring.
The signs and symptoms of hay fever usually begin immediately after contact with a specific substance that causes the allergy (allergen). They include:
- Runny and nasal congestion
- Itching in the eyes
- Watery eyes
- Itching in the nose, palate and throat
- Facial pain
- Inflammation of the paranasal sinuses (sinusitis)
- Swelling and blue discoloration of the skin below the eyes (allergic dark circles)
- Loss of taste and smell
- If excessive mucus is not eliminated, sinusitis develops.
Symptoms worsen when lying down, so it can be difficult to sleep at night.
The season can be a factor that triggers hay fever.
Rhinitis can start or worsen in a certain period of the year, triggered by the pollen of trees, grasses and weeds that bloom at different times.
Who also inside buildings on the allergens, such as dust mites. Cockroaches, mold or pet hair, sensitive reactions, may feel the symptoms throughout the year.
Many people have allergic symptoms throughout the year, which get worse during certain seasons.
What is the difference between allergic rhinitis and cold?
The signs and symptoms may be different. So in order to make the diagnosis, you have to keep certain characteristics in mind.
- Runny nose with thin, watery mucus
- No fever
Symptoms appear immediately after contact with the allergens and persist as long as contact with the allergens persists.
- Runny nose with watery or yellowish mucus
- General body aches
- Mild fever
- Nasal congestion
- Inflammation of the cervical lymph nodes
- Symptoms appear 1-3 days after contact with the cold virus
- The duration is 3-7 days
The triggering factors for hay fever are:
- Pollen from trees, often in spring
- Meadow pollen, more common in late spring and summer
- Ambrosia pollen, more common in autumn
- Fungal spores and mold, can get worse in the warm months.
The best treatment for allergic rhinitis is to avoid the substances that cause the reaction.
Unfortunately, it is not always possible to stay away from the cause and you may need other treatments besides developing strategies to avoid exposure.
It is important to reduce contact with allergens; Here is some advice:
- Stay indoors on dry and windy days. The best time to go out of the house is after the rain, which helps cleanse the air of pollen.
- Delegate or avoid lawn mowing, weeding, or other gardening work that can stir up the allergens.
- Change clothes that were worn outside.
- You can also take a shower to remove the pollen from your skin and hair.
- Do not hang washed laundry outdoors, as the pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
- Wear a dust mask when working outdoors.
Take additional measures if the pollen concentration is elevated.
The signs and symptoms of seasonal allergy can flare up if the air contains a lot of pollen.
These precautions can help to reduce contact:
– Follow radio stations, local television, local newspapers or the Internet regarding pollen forecasts to be informed about the current pollen count.
– If strong pollen is imminent, you should start taking anti-allergic drugs before the onset of symptoms.
– Close windows and doors at night or at other moments when there is increased pollen.
– Avoid outdoor activities in the first hours of the morning when concentration is highest.
indoor air clean There is no miracle cure that eliminates all antigens from the house, but these tips can help:
- Use air conditioners in the house and in the car.
- If the heating or air conditioning in the house is switched on, highly effective filters should be used and regular cleaning programs should be followed.
- Keep the air inside dry with room dehumidifiers.
- Use a portable high-performance filter in the bedroom.
- Floors are often cleaned with a vacuum cleaner containing a HEPA filter.
Medication for seasonal allergy
There is no vaccination against allergic rhinitis. However, there are medications that help treat the symptoms.
Nasal cortisone preparations
These cautious nasal sprays help prevent and treat nasal inflammation, itching in the nose and runny nose caused by allergic rhinitis.
For many people, these are the most effective drugs for hay fever, often they are also the first prescribed drugs.
Examples are: fluticasone (Flutide®, Avamys®, etc.), Flunisolid (Syntaris® etc.), betamethasone (Betnesol), budesonide (Pulmicort, Entocort ®®, Miflonide ®, etc.) and triamcinolone (Volon®).
Some corticosteroids can be inhaled as an aerosol.
Nasal corticosteroids are a safe long-term treatment for most people.
Side effects include an unpleasant smell and taste and irritation of the nose. Side effects on steroids in a spray are rare.
Cortisone medications in the form of tablets, such as prednisone, are used to relieve symptoms of a severe allergy.
Since long-term use of corticosteroids can cause serious side effects such as cataracts, osteoporosis and muscle weakness, they are only prescribed for a short-term period of time.
These products are usually in tablet form. However, there are antihistamines as nasal spray or eye drops.
Antihistamines can provide relief from runny nose, sneezing, and itching, but have less effect on constipation.
They act by blocking histamine, a chemical that causes the symptoms and is released by the immune system during an allergic reaction.
The old over-the-counter antihistamines like diphenhydramine work like the newer ones, but some can make you sleepy.
On the other hand, it is rather rare that the newer antihistamines cause fatigue. Examples of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals include loratadine (Loraderm), fexofenadine (Telfast®), and cetirizine (Reactine®, Zyrtec®).
Antihistamine nasal spray under medical prescription, such as olopatadine, can relieve nasal symptoms.
Antihistamine eye drops help against itching in the eyes and seasonal allergic irritation.
These medications are over-the-counter in liquid form and available as tablets and nasal sprays. Over-the-counter oral decongestants contain pseudoephedrine (for example, BoxaGrippal, Rhinopront).
The nasal sprays contain oxymetazoline hydrochlorite (Vicks sinex, nasivin, etc.) and oxymetazoline (Afrin).
Oral decongestants can cause a whole host of side effects, including increased blood pressure, insomnia, irritability, and headaches.
Decongestant nasal sprays should not be used for more than two or three consecutive days, because continued use may worsen symptoms (constant recurrent constipation).
This medication is available as an over-the-counter nasal spray and should be used several times a day. It is also available as eye drops according to doctor’s prescription.
It helps in relieving the symptoms of allergic rhinitis by preventing histamine release.
Cromoglicic acid has no serious side effects and is more effective when sprayed before the onset of symptoms.
Leukotriene receptor antagonist
SINGULAIR® (Montelukast) is an oral tablet under doctor’s order and serves to block the activity of leukotrienes, which are chemical substances of the immune system that cause allergic symptoms such as excessive mucus production.
The drug is specifically effective for the treatment of allergic asthma. It is often used when nasal sprays are not tolerated or in case of mild asthma.
It can cause headaches.
In rare cases, montelukast is associated with psychological reactions such as agitation, aggressiveness, hallucinations, depression and suicidal thoughts. In case of an unusual psychological reaction, one should consult the doctor.
Ipratropium bromide (Rhinovent)
Available as a prescription nasal spray, helps relieve a runny nose by acting on the mucus-producing nasal glands.
It is not effective against nasal congestion or sneezing. Mild side effects include nasal dryness, nosebleeds and sore throat. Rarely, more serious side effects may occur, such as blurred vision, dizziness and difficulty with micturition. The drug is not suitable for people with glaucoma or for men with inflammation of the prostate.
Other treatments for allergic rhinitis
Syringe treatment for allergy (specific immunotherapy, SIT for short). If the drugs do not relieve the symptoms of chronic allergic rhinitis or cause too many side effects, the doctor may recommend injection therapy for allergy (specific immunotherapy or hyposensitization).
Over a period of three to five years, injections containing small amounts of the allergen are given at regular intervals.
The goal is to accustom the body to the presence of the allergens that cause the symptoms in order to reduce the need for medication.
SIT can be particularly effective for allergies to cat hair, dust mites or pollen from trees, meadows or weeds.
In children, immunotherapy can prevent the development of asthma.
A sinus rinse with a sterile physiological solution is a quick, inexpensive and very effective way to relieve nasal congestion. The rinse removes the mucus and allergens directly from the nose.
To reduce the symptoms of allergy, one should follow a diet low in fat and rich in complex carbohydrates.
You should drink plenty of water, at least 2 liters a day.
The following foods should be included in the diet:
- onions, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, horseradish
- Green leafy vegetables
- Yellow/orange vegetables
- Stinging nettle, bamboo shoots, cabbage, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes
The following foods should be avoided in the diet:
- Alcohol, caffeine and dairy products
- Bananas and citrus fruit
- Dyes (Tartrazine)
- Red meat
Herbal remedies (phytotherapy)
Rarely, drugstore products have significant side effects when used appropriately and at the recommended dose. In addition, they can also be taken by children.
Occasionally, a plant product taken as prescribed will cause stomach irritation or headaches.
This allows conclusions to be drawn about the purity of the preparation or the added ingredients such as preservatives or synthetic aggregates.
For this reason, it is recommended to use only high-quality products. As with other drugs, it is no better to take an increased amount of the funds, because an overdose can lead to death or serious illness.
Some of the plant products used to treat symptoms of allergy are:
- Chinese angelica (Angelica sinensis) is used as an antihistamine and is anti-inflammatory.
- Common eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) reduces constipation and secretion. It helps against itching of the eyes, sneezing and excessive mucus production.
- Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) contains bioflavonoids and is used as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
- Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) relieves allergic, inflammatory and histamine reactions.
- Red clover (Trifolium pratense) strengthens the body’s resistance to allergies.
- Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is used as an antihistamine and is anti-inflammatory.
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) reduces blockages and secretions.
Prepare a tea from a drugstore product or herbal mixture.
Drink 3-4 cups of it daily.
If the herbs are in the form of an infusion, they are often administered in combination, 1-3 drops 3 or 4 times a day.