Allergic Rhinitis is the condition in the nose which is characterized by
- Nasal Itching
- Clear watery discharge
- Nasal congestion
- Post nasal drip
- Redness of the eyes with itching and scratchiness of eyes.
There has been a gradual increase in the number of persons suffering from allergies – and this is usually associated with a comprehensive vaccination programme, more hygienic surroundings, better sanitation facilities, infrequent upper respiratory tract and other infections in the body. There is a school of thought that believes that the less infections a child has in the growing up years, the more likely is this child to develop allergies later in life. This is very clearly evident from the statistics of school going children who have bronchial asthma – a condition with a direct link with nasal allergy - a few years ago it was rare to find an asthmatic child in school, but now many more school children suffer from bronchial asthma.
What is Allergic Rhinitis?
The exaggerated response of the body to an otherwise non toxic stimulus – like pollen from plants, mould etc in the form of sneezing and rhinorrhoea is allergic rhinitis.
So, for instance, in infections- whenever a body is exposed to a virus or bacteria the body will set up a defensive response that is universal to all individuals. The attempt of the defence response is to eliminate the threat from the body – which is done in various ways. But, in allergies, the offending agent that sets up a reaction is innocuous for most individuals. Only some, who are allergic to it, will show a response.
So how do we manage a patient of Allergic Rhinitis?
After listening to the typical symptoms, a nasal examination is made which will reveal pale and boggy mucosa and turbinates which may sometimes be enlarged.
Depending upon the situation, the doctor may advise some tests, which could include a Complete Blood Count and an IgE estimation. In case the IgE is very high, your ENT Specialist may offer a specific allergen test which will test your blood against many known allergens including House dust Mite, Congress grass, Cockroaches etc. A high count against any of these known allergens is diagnostic of a specific allergy to these antigens.A CT Scan of the sinuses may sometimes be ordered.
Management of Allergic Rhinitis is in three distinct steps
AVOIDANCE – Once an allergen is identified avoidance is the best method to prevent attacks of allergies
PROPHYLAXIS – Once t is known that an allergy sufferer has symptoms at a particular time of the year – usually in the months of March and October, an anti allergy prophylaxis treatment can be started to minimise the symptoms during the peak allergy season.
TREATMENT OF THE ACUTE ATTACK – once an attack is established, it is usually treated with Antihistamines as well as Intranasal steroids for some length of time. These are usually effective and safe to take when under medical supervision.
RECENT ADVANCES –
Some recent advances are allowing us to finally Cure a patient of Allergic Rhinitis, rather than the current practice of offering Symptomatic Relief. This comes in the form of Sublingual Immunotherapy and its use is getting popularized gradually.
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