Allergic Rhinitis (Seasonal Allergies / Hay Fever)

Last Updated: August 16, 2022

Allergic rhinitis is a condition mainly characterized by runny nose, sinus congestion, sneezing, and itching after being exposed to an allergen.

Allergic Rhinitis (Seasonal Allergies / Hay Fever) falls under theEar, Nose & Throatcategory.

What is allergic rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis is when exposure to an irritant (such as pollen, dust, pet dander, or mold) causes an allergic reaction resulting in inflammation of the sinuses. [1]

What are the main signs and symptoms of allergic rhinitis?

After exposure to the allergen (something that triggers allergic reactions), people may experience sneezing, a runny/stuffy nose, itchy/red/watery eyes, and coughing. Symptoms may range from a minor annoyance that lasts for a short season, to severe and last a long time leading to sleep disturbances.[2]

How is allergic rhinitis diagnosed?

Diagnosis is based upon a thorough history and physical examination from a healthcare provider. To confirm a diagnosis, nasal corticosteroids may be prescribed to see if there is a reduction in symptoms. In some cases, blood tests measuring allergy sensitivity or skin prick testing (a procedure where a small amount of the allergen is exposed to the skin) are also used. Rarely, imaging can be used, such as a CT scan, but this is typically not necessary.[2]

What are some of the main medical treatments for allergic rhinitis?

Common treatments include medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, and/or intranasal or oral corticosteroids. Another treatment includes exposing the body to small amounts of the allergen (either through a tablet or an injection) in order to develop a better immune response over time, resulting in decreased symptoms.[2]

Have any supplements been studied for allergic rhinitis?

A number of supplements, such as probiotics, spirulina, vitamin D, vitamin C, and vitamin E have been studied. However, the existing evidence is not strong enough to make any supplementation recommendations.[3]

How could diet affect allergic rhinitis?

One of the risk factors for developing allergic rhinitis later in life is having a food allergy during early childhood (<2 years old).[4] It is believed that introducing foods associated with allergy (e.g., peanuts, gluten, eggs, dairy, and shellfish) to infants may reduce the risk of developing food allergies, and ergo allergic rhinitis later in life. However, the evidence surrounding early allergenic food introduction and developing allergic rhinitis is weak. Currently, there are no dietary recommendations for improving allergic rhinitis. [5]

Are there any other treatments for allergic rhinitis?

Aside from medical treatments, symptoms are usually controlled by reducing exposure to allergens in the environment. Irritant exposure can be reduced by using air filters, regular house cleaning, saline sinus rinses, and wearing masks. There is some weak evidence that acupuncture may improve symptoms of allergic rhinitis. [6]

What causes allergic rhinitis?

In allergic rhinitis, the immune system is hypersensitized to an allergen and responds with an overreaction to remove the allergen from the body. The body releases histamine and other chemical mediators that cause symptoms of allergic rhinitis (sneezing, runny nose, etc) in an attempt to neutralize and remove the offending substance.[7] It should be noted that this reaction by the body to allergens is typically maladaptive, as the offending allergen is rarely dangerous.

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  1. ^The content of this page was partially adapted from MedlinePlus of the National Library of Medicine
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  5. ^Ierodiakonou D, Garcia-Larsen V, Logan A, Groome A, Cunha S, Chivinge J, Robinson Z, Geoghegan N, Jarrold K, Reeves T, Tagiyeva-Milne N, Nurmatov U, Trivella M, Leonardi-Bee J, Boyle RJTiming of Allergenic Food Introduction to the Infant Diet and Risk of Allergic or Autoimmune Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysisJAMA.(2016 Sep 20)
  6. ^Bergmann KC, Berger M, Klimek L, Pfaar O, Werchan B, Werchan M, Zuberbier TNonpharmacological measures to prevent allergic symptoms in pollen allergy: A critical review.Allergol Select.(2021)
  7. ^Akhouri S, House SAAllergic RhinitisStatPearls.(2022-06)
  8. ^A Singh, F Hacini-Rachinel, M L Gosoniu, T Bourdeau, S Holvoet, R Doucet-Ladeveze, M Beaumont, A Mercenier, S NuttenImmune-modulatory effect of probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis NCC2818 in individuals suffering from seasonal allergic rhinitis to grass pollen: an exploratory, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trialEur J Clin Nutr.(2013 Feb)
  9. ^J Z Xiao, S Kondo, N Yanagisawa, N Takahashi, T Odamaki, N Iwabuchi, K Iwatsuki, S Kokubo, H Togashi, K Enomoto, T EnomotoEffect of probiotic Bifidobacterium longum BB536 corrected in relieving clinical symptoms and modulating plasma cytokine levels of Japanese cedar pollinosis during the pollen season. A randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trialJ Investig Allergol Clin Immunol.(2006)
  10. ^D J Costa, P Marteau, M Amouyal, L K Poulsen, E Hamelmann, M Cazaubiel, B Housez, S Leuillet, M Stavnsbjerg, P Molimard, S Courau, J BousquetEfficacy and safety of the probiotic Lactobacillus paracasei LP-33 in allergic rhinitis: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial (GA2LEN Study)Eur J Clin Nutr.(2014 May)
  11. ^Manabu Kawase, Fang He, Akira Kubota, Masaru Hiramatsu, Hiroshi Saito, Toyota Ishii, Hiroshi Yasueda, Kazuo AkiyamaEffect of fermented milk prepared with two probiotic strains on Japanese cedar pollinosis in a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical studyInt J Food Microbiol.(2009 Jan 15)
  12. ^Cold, Flu, or Allergy? Know The Difference for Best Treatment.
Examine Database References
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