Is your nose itchy? Have you been sneezing a lot lately? Do your eyes water, and do you suffer from either a stuffy or runny nose?
It might be time for you to take a break and assess if you are suffering from allergic rhinitis.
A Case of the Sniffles
Rhinitis, more commonly known as “hay fever,” is a condition where the immune system incorrectly identifies a typically harmless matter or substance as an invader. These substances are called allergens and the immune system responds to them by releasing histamines and chemical mediators.
These antibodies then travel to cells and cause an allergic reaction. This, then, results in common symptoms such as sneezing, a runny or stuffy nose, and itchiness in the nose, roof of the mouth, throat, eyes, and ears. Allergens can also cause asthma flare-ups for those afflicted with allergic asthma.
There are two types of rhinitis– allergic and non-allergic. Allergic rhinitis can be seasonal and usually happens during spring and autumn. The most common trigger is pollen that is airborne. Non-allergic rhinitis, on the other hand, is not caused by the immune system and involves year-round symptoms.
Allergy Symptoms and Treatment
A consultation with an allergist or immunologist can help determine your allergy symptoms and treatment. You’ll discuss your health history and undergo an allergy test to provide more information and accurate diagnosis of your condition. This is done to determine what triggers your allergies so you can manage it properly.
Allergens can be found outdoors and indoors. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), even the cleanest homes have allergens present. In fact, over half of homes have at least six allergens including dust mites, pet dander, and mold. Aside from allergens, there are other triggers that cause rhinitis. Irritants like smoke and strong odors as well as changes in humidity or temperature are also culprits.
Prevention is better than cure that is why the first step that you should take to avoid allergic rhinitis is to avoid the triggers that cause your symptoms. Start by making sure that your living space is free from these common assailants. Prevent and manage your allergic rhinitis in the following simple ways:
1. Keep your kitchen clean
You should try to keep your kitchen clean. This means no dirty dishes left in the sink. You should also be vigilant in keeping your food covered or stored away. Sweep away crumbs, take out the garbage, and do not leave the dishes unwashed. It is best to keep a lidded trash bin, so the roached cannot feast on leftover food. Also, check if there are accumulated crumbs in the oven, stove, refrigerator, toaster or microwave, and wipe them clean so the roaches won’t get to them.
Cockroach create allergens that trigger asthma symptoms. To avoid this, make sure that you block spaces through which they can enter your home. This includes, cracks, crevices, and windows. You should also fix leaky pipes and faucets since they need water to survive. Better yet, you should have an exterminator do a round to ensure that there are no more roaches crawling around your place.
2. Drive out dust mites.
Microscopic allergens called “dust mites” can also wreak havoc on your system.
Since a bigger portion of time is spent in the bedroom, the level of dust mites there should be reduced, if not completely eliminated. To do so, wash your bed linen weekly in hot water (at least 54°C) and dried in a hot dryer. You should also use allergen-proof fabric covers to encase your pillows, mattresses, and box springs. An airtight, plastic cover with zipper will also do.
As much as possible, veer away from using carpets and heavy curtains. It’s also better to opt for shades or blinds for ease of cleaning.
If you must use throw rugs, make sure they are cleaned regularly. Make sure your vacuum also has a high-efficiency particulate filter and wear a mask when you vacuum. Better yet, if you have allergies, you can subscribe to professional cleaning services so you can avoid inhaling dust trigger your allergies. After the cleaning session, you and your family can focus on maintaining cleanliness by developing simple habits.
3. Prevent indoor mold growth.
Mold can also trigger your allergies so make sure to get rid of dampness at home. Fix and seal leaking faucets and pipes. Damp basements can benefit from a dehumidifier but makes sure to throw out the water and regularly clean units to prevent mildew from forming. Damp floors should not be carpeted and don’t store items in damp places.
Remove visible mold by using bleach or other mold-reducing cleansers. To prevent mold forming on damp clothes, wash clothing with soap and water, wash and thoroughly dry.
4. Control pet allergens.
People usually think it’s pet fur that causes allergies. In truth, it’s an allergen found in a furry pet’s saliva, dander (dead skin flakes), or urine.
The AAAAI says that no breed of cats or dogs is allergen-free since they all carry these proteins. If it’s unavoidable to care for such pets while you have an allergy, try to minimize contact. Also, avoid letting them inside the spaces where you spend a lot of time.
Have carpets and rugs vacuumed regularly or, better yet, replace them with linoleum, or opt for a bare floor.
5. Take allergy medication.
If due to certain circumstances that you simply cannot avoid the triggers, then your allergist can determine what kind of allergy management should be taken. A form of treatment for long-term allergy sufferers of allergic rhinitis is immunotherapy.
Doctors also prescribe medications like decongestant pills, nasal corticosteroid sprays, and antihistamines to reduce allergic rhinitis symptoms. Luckily, there now are rhinitis medicines in the market that are reacts fast, non-drowsy, and can provide multi-symptom relief within 24 hours.
An estimated 30 to 40 percent of the world population is affected by one or more allergic conditions, according to the World Allergy Organization. If you are one of these people, then you don’t have despair. There are effective ways to relieve allergies so you can alleviate the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Just make sure to avoid the triggers and take medications as prescribed by your physician. By doing so, you can breathe freely and more comfortably.