Rhinitis, or an inflammation of the nasal passages, can be caused by illness or allergy. Allergic rhinitis can present in three different forms: Seasonal, occupational, and perennial.
If you suffer from allergy symptoms that last year-round you could have perennial allergic rhinitis. This is a common allergic disorder which affects between 10 and 20 percent of the U.S. Population. It can present at any age, although symptoms usually begin manifesting in early childhood or young adulthood.
Symptoms of perennial allergic rhinitis can include
- Stuffy and/or runny nose
- Sinus pain
- Post nasal drip
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Sore throat
- Dry cough
- Chronic fatigue
- Dark circles under eyes
Those who suffer from perennial allergic rhinitis are also more prone to other respiratory diseases such as asthma, as well as atopic dermatitis, allergic conjunctivitis, ear infections, and other health complications.
Allergic rhinitis is caused by a histamine response to environmental proteins. Those who suffer seasonal symptoms are most likely reacting to plant pollen, while those with this are likely reacting to household dust mites and fungus.
Although some doctors can diagnose and treat perennial allergic rhinitis based on anecdotal evidence, it can also be mistaken for a series of chronic colds. Fortunately it can also be confirmed by allergy skin tests or RAST (Radioallergosorbent) blood draws.
Identifying and reducing your exposure to environmental triggers is imperative in the treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis.
To reduce allergens in your home:
- Replace filters in your heat and air conditioning units often. Consider installing filters in your vents as well
- Use covers designed for those who suffer from allergies to protect your pillows, mattresses and any other porous furniture where dust and other allergens can build up
- Vacuum often, or opt for wood flooring in place of carpet
- Use cotton linens and curtains that can be washed frequently in hot water
- Do not allow people to smoke in your home or your car. Avoid cigarette smoke whenever possible
- Avoid musty areas such as attics and basements
- Opt for non-porous furniture such as wood or leather when possible
- Utilize proper ventilation systems in bathrooms and kitchens to avoid exposure to mold
Other Treatment Options
If reducing environmental exposure to allergens is not effective, pharmaceutical treatment options may be considered. They include:
- Saline irrigation systems such as the Neti Pot or a saline based nasal spray
- Over the counter antihistamines such as Benadryl, Claritin, and Zyrtek
- Nasal decongestant sprays containing Azelastine or olopatadine
- Steroid based nasal sprays such as fluticasone, budesonide, and flunisolide
- In some holistic studies, a botanical supplement containing quercetin was found to be effective
If none of the above treatments are effective, one may consider immunology treatment, a series of allergy shots administered by an allergist over a possible time span of 3-5 years. The shots are designed to reduce the patient’s immune response to allergens over time. The treatment is costly and carries a higher risk of side effects and is therefore reserved for those who respond poorly to other treatments.