Allergic Rhinitis is defined as inflammation of the lining of the nasal cavity as a result of an allergic response. The common allergens include house dust mites, pollens, grasses, cockroaches and animal dander like dogs and cats.
The Common symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis are
- Nasal blockage – from swelling of turbinates, build-up of secretions
- Discharge – runny nose, usually clear
- Postnasal drip causing cough, sore throat, hoarseness
- Itchy eyes
- Itchy throat
- Snoring, poor sleep
- Blocked ears
Diagnosis for Allergic Rhinitis
- Skin Prick Test – involves a simple scratch test on the skin (usually forearm)
- RAST (Radioallergosorbent Test) – a blood test that measures antibody levels to different allergens
- Intradermal Provocation Food Test (IPFT) – a skin test for food allergy
Treatment for Allergic Rhinitis
- Allergen Avoidance – Ideal but practically difficult with inhalant allergens. For house dust mites, proof covers for pillows, mattresses, blankets can be useful
- Pharmacological – Medications such as nasal steroid sprays, decongestant sprays/drops, oral anthistamines, oral steroids offer good symptom control but does not cure allergy.
- Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) – the closest to a cure for allergy. Effective for nasal allergy and asthma, the principle is to desensitise patients to the offending allergens.
- Surgery – aims mainly at relieving nasal blockage through turbinate reduction. There are a few ways to reduce the size of turbinates including heat (radiofrequency), cutting, and debulking.