Category: Patient Education > Nasal & Sinus
The most recognized form of allergic rhinitis is known as hayfever. This usually occurs in spring and/or fall and causes sneezing, runny nose, tearing. Allergic rhinitis can be seasonal (hayfever due to pollen), perennial (due to dust mites, pets or molds) or both. What people experience as a runny nose or nasal congestion could be due to many different causes, some of which are not allergic. A drippy nose with cold air is normal and sometimes this occurs with spicy foods and is not a true allergy but a condition called vasomotor rhinitis.
Typical nasal allergies commonly cause sneezing, itching, watery eyes/nose, postnasal drip, sinus headaches and nasal congestion. Allergies can also lead to migraine headaches, snoring, chronic fatigue, asthma, sinus and ear infections.
Diagnosis / Testing
Most people with hayfever can diagnosis themselves after a few years of repeated symptoms of seasonal allergies. If symptoms are atypical or year round then the diagnostic testing will be helpful. An allergy evaluation will help you determine what your sensitivities are and how to avoid your allergic triggers.
Now that some antihistamines are going over the counter, people with milder allergies will have ready access and may try them. Of course, chances are they will not be covered by insurance. Alternatives include nasal sprays (steroids and others), some other non-sedating antihistamines, brief use of oral steroids if necessary and allergy desensitization shots. Some people have classic allergic symptoms but have no identifiable trigger for their allergies. The treatment strategy is the same except that allergy shots will not help. Understanding your allergies can even help you plan vacations so that you are not taken by surprise by allergy attacks (see the Nationwide Pollen Count for further details).
When to see an Allergist
- current allergy medications are not relieving your symptoms or are causing side effects
- symptoms developed after obtaining a pet
- having difficulty breathing
- anticipating pregnancy
- sinus headaches
- recurrent ear or sinus infections
- excessive snoring with allergies
- any allergy symptom interfering with quality of life