Allergic Rhinitis: Causes, Symptoms & Home Remedies

Dr. Sneha Ganatra
November 23, 2020

Allergic reactions can occur at any point in the year as common allergens like pollen, dust, and dander are in the air year-round. This is particularly true in India as environmental pollution is also another factor that contributes to allergies. As such, conditions like rhinitis are fairly common for those that are exposed to these allergens and this can make everyday life quite uncomfortable. Allergic rhinitis is very common in India, affecting over 10 million persons annually, and can occur seasonally too. This is the reason for it being called hay fever, which shouldn’t be confused with an actual fever.

Typically, when exposed to allergens, the immune system responds and therefore, it isn’t uncommon to experience cold-like symptoms, especially in the case of rhinitis. Meaning, you should expect some congestion, sneezing, and watery eyes as these are fairly common across the board. However, based on the severity of the allergic reaction, it is possible to develop worse symptoms but with proper treatment, these can be avoided. For this reason, simply knowing the allergic rhinitis meaning isn’t enough and it is worth it to know all you can about this common condition.

To that end, here’s a breakdown of the causes, symptoms, and treatment of allergic rhinitis.

Allergic rhinitis causes

As mentioned, allergic rhinitis is caused by the body’s reaction to allergens. When the body is exposed to these foreign substances, it releases a chemical called histamine, which is what brings about the various symptoms. Besides these, there is a higher chance of you developing allergic rhinitis if someone in your family already has it. In other words, allergic rhinitis is influenced by genetic factors. Besides this, here are some other possible causes:

  • Grass, weed, and tree pollen
  • Mould and fungi spores
  • Pet hair
  • Dust mites
  • Cockroach dust
  • Perfumes
  • Cat saliva
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Exhaust fumes
  • Cold temperatures
  • Wood smoke
  • Hairspray
  • Humidity

It is also important to note that this allergic disorder can also occur seasonally based on the triggers. Summer months are ones in which you can expect such reactions as grass and weeds produce the most amount of pollen at this time.

Allergic rhinitis symptoms

With allergic rhinitis, the linings of the nasal passage, eyelids, and sinuses are inflamed, resulting in symptoms that may be commonly mistaken for those characteristic with common cold.

Here’s what you should expect if you have allergic rhinitis:

  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Itchy throat
  • Coughing
  • Dark circles
  • Headaches
  • Hives
  • Fatigue
  • Sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Ear congestion
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath

These are the typical symptoms of allergic rhinitis and many of these will worsen as the condition does. Keep an eye out for these and seek medical treatment if home remedies aren’t working effectively. Considering the fact that rhinitis causes insomnia, which can lead to reduced productivity and other complications, it is in your best interest to get yourself checked at the earliest.

Allergic rhinitis treatment

There are 5 main medical treatment options that are available to you for treating allergic rhinitis and they vary based on the severity of the allergic reaction. Here’s a breakdown of each.

  1. OTC medication: These usually take the form of antihistamine tablets or sprays that are easily available at most pharmacies. These control the release of histamine, which is responsible for causing the symptoms. As a result, medication can clear a blocked nose, help reduce sneezing, and even stop a runny nose.
  2. Eye drops: The contain cromoglycate and help by keeping swelling in check. Additionally, they can also reduce itchiness and may be recommended alongside other medication.
  3. Oral corticosteroids: As the conditions worsens, symptoms may only respond to stronger medication like prednisone tablets. These are available only on a doctor’s prescription and shouldn’t be used as a long-term solution.
  4. Nasal corticosteroids: Allergic rhinitis causes inflammation and treating it offers relief. These sprays do just that and can serve as a safe long-term solution. However, some nasal irritation can be expected, alongside an unpleasant smell and taste.
  5. Immunotherapy: This is a procedure that desensitises the immune system to allergens and triggers, thus reducing such reactions. It is a long process and involves either injections or sublingual drops (medication dissolved under the tongue). Immunotherapy may serve as a potential cure for the symptoms.

Allergic rhinitis home remedies

While there is a possibility that such a condition is passed down genetically, the safest route is to do all you can to prevent such a reaction. To do so, here are few home remedies you can rely on as prevention tips.

  • Keep windows shut during peak pollen hours
  • Cover your face when raking leaves or cleaning the yard
  • Avoid exercising during the early hours of the day
  • Wear a dust mask when outside
  • Shower after coming back indoors
  • Use glasses to protect the eyes from allergens
  • Use mite-proof bed sheets
  • Get a dehumidifier to keep mould in check
  • Keep flowers outside the home
  • Avoid cigarette smoke and quit smoking
  • Use a pollen filter for your car
  • Keeps the eyes clean by splashing water on them frequently

Having allergic reactions seasonally is something you can prepare for as there are a few over-the-counter medications you can stock up on. However, when the condition persists year round, your best bet is preventing such a reaction. This is where the prevention tips come into play and may be the best solution for you, depending on the severity. While this isn’t a complete solution, options like immunotherapy are always on the table but require a long-term commitment to treatment. Such approaches may suit those with severe reactions and if you plan on taking this route, be sure to use the Bajaj Finserv Health app to find the best specialist.

This digital provision has made healthcare a lot more accessible as it gives access to a range of telemedicine innovations. For instance, besides allowing you to find the best doctors in your vicinity, you can also skip the physical visit to the clinic altogether and book appointments online, from your smartphone. To add to that, you can also choose to consult with your doctor virtually over video, so you don’t have to step out of your home. Further, with the Health Vault feature of the app, you can track your vitals, maintain digital patient records, and share all this data with laboratories or doctors as needed. This way, even in emergencies, you can get the best care possible. To get started, download the app for free from Google Play or the Apple App Store.