Allergic rhinitis, commonly referred to as hay fever or seasonal allergies, affect about 8% of Americans. This condition can cause irritating and uncomfortable symptoms like itchiness or congestion, but effective treatment options are available. At Silver Falls Dermatology, our providers can also help patients understand their allergens through allergy testing services.
What is Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis is commonly referred to as hay fever. It is an allergic response due to specific allergens, most commonly pollen or other environmental factors which are typically seasonal. Symptoms may vary but typically include a runny nose, itchiness, coughing or watering eyes.
What Causes Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis is caused by the release of histamine, a natural chemical within the immune system. Histamine triggers the allergic response including itching, swelling and mucus production. This is caused by exposure to an allergen, which is an otherwise harmless substance. Common allergens include:
- Dust mites
- Animal dander
- Animal saliva
Allergic Rhinitis Symptoms
Most patients will experience multiple symptoms as a result of allergic rhinitis. Some common examples include:
- Runny or itchy nose
- Sore throat
- Watery or itchy eyes
- Dark circles below the eyes
- Dry, itchy or blistering skin
Most symptoms will occur immediately after exposure to the allergen. Other symptoms, such as headaches or dry skin, typically only occur after long-term exposure.
Allergy Testing and Allergic Rhinitis Treatments
If you are experiencing allergic rhinitis symptoms, your provider may first suggest allergy testing. This usually involves a skin prick test, in which the suspected allergens are placed directly on the skin to monitor for a reaction.
Several treatments are available for allergic rhinitis. These include:
- Antihistamines (over the counter or prescription)
- Eye drops or nasal sprays
- Immunotherapy (allergy shots)