Allergy Clinical Services

Allergic Rhinitis

Rhinitis is the inflammation or irritation of the mucous membranes lining the nose. When rhinitis is caused by allergies, it is referred to as allergic rhinitis or "hay fever."

Symptoms

Allergic Rhinitis is a term which refers to inflammation or irritation of the mucous membranes lining the nose. When rhinitis is caused by allergies, it is referred to as allergic rhinitis or "hay fever".

Symptoms:

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Physical signs

Complications

The inflammation and swelling caused by allergic rhinitis may lead to poor drainage of secretions leading to sinus or ear infections.

A cough associated with allergic rhinitis may represent reactive airways or asthma. You should notify your health care provider if the cough:

One particular form of non-allergic rhinitis, called rhinitis medicamentosa, occurs when over-the-counter decongestant nasal sprays (e.g., AFRIN nasal spray or NEOSYNEPHRINE nasal spray) are used regularly. These nasal sprays are very different from prescription nasal sprays used to treat allergic rhinitis.

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Skin testing

Treatment

Treatment is first directed at limiting exposure to individual allergens and irritants. When this is not effective, medications are then given. Immunotherapy, or "allergy shots" are given when environmental control and medications still do not adequately control symptoms.

Medication

Antihistamines

Fist generation antihistamines are older and often available without a prescription

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Nasal corticosteroids

Nasal steroids are medicines that reduce inflammation in the nasal passages. They are sprayed into the nose to prevent all symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Commonly used brand names include NASACORT nasal spray, RHINOCORT nasal spray, FLONASE nasal spray and NASONEX nasal spray.

The medication may take several days to several weeks to have an effect and must be given to your child every day as directed. Side effects may include burning, irritation, nosebleeds, dryness and increased sneezing.

Since nasal steroids act locally, they are considered safe, even in children. If you have any concerns about using this type of medication, please discuss this with your health care provider.

To use this medicine:

Resources on allergies and allergic rhinitis

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Reviewed by: Paulette Taylor, RN, CPN, AE-C
Date: February 2009

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