May 18, 2011

Nasal allergy problems (rhinitis)

Rhinitis - means inflammation of the lining of the nose

Common causes of rhinitis are allergies which may be seasonal or occur all-year-round (examples - allergy to house dust mite, cats, dogs and moulds). Rhinitis is a risk factor for the development of asthma.

Allergic rhinitis is very common, affecting one in four in the world. As with other allergic disorders (asthma, atopic dermatitis) rhinitis is much more common in westernized societies; the prevalence of rhinitis continues to rise in many countries.

Allergic rhinitis is frequently ignored by family members, doctors and even sufferers themselves, probably because recurrent colds are common, particularly in small children. This is a big mistake since not only does rhinitis reduce quality of life, it can impair sleep and reduce school performance and attendance at work. Allergic children have been shown to have more infections and more problems with those infections.

Asthmatic children who get colds are 20 times more likely to be hospitalised due to their asthma if they are allergic and if they are exposed to high levels of their provoking allergens. Adequate treatment of underlying allergic disease helps to diminish these problems. Allergic rhinitis may itself be the first manifestation of allergic disease, e.g. as hay fever in teenagers or adults. Rhinitis may progress to persistent symptoms with resultant nasal congestion which impacts on adjacent structures such as the sinuses, throat, middle ear and bronchial tubes.

Diagnosis rests on taking an adequate detailed history and supplementing this by examination and, if necessary, specific allergy tests. The timing of symptoms in relation to possible allergen exposure is of primary relevance.

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