Allergic Rhinitis: Means, Symptoms, Complication, Prevention

Dr. Parvesh Kumar

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Parvesh Kumar


9 min read

Key Takeaways

  • Allergic reactions can occur at any point in the year as allergens like pollen, dust, and dander are quite common
  • the typical symptoms of allergic rhinitis will worsen as the condition does
  • Having allergic reactions seasonally is something you can prepare for

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.

What is Allergic Rhinitis?

A response to microscopic airborne particles known as allergens causes allergic rhinitis, sometimes known as hay fever. Your body produces the natural chemical histamine when inhaling allergens through your mouth or nose. Several environmental and indoor allergens bring on hay fever. Dust mites, mold, pet dander, and plant and tree pollen are typical causes.

Hay fever symptoms include sneezing, nasal congestion, and irritation of the mouth, eyes, nose, and throat. Infectious rhinitis, or the common cold, is not the same as allergic rhinitis. Others do not transmit hay fever.

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

Allergic Rhinitis Causes

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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 Diagnosis

You may just require a physical checkup if you have mild allergies. To determine the best course of action for treatment and prevention, your doctor may conduct a few tests.

One of the most typical tests is the skin prick test. To determine how your body will respond to certain drugs, your doctor will apply them to your skin. If you are allergic to anything, a little red bump typically develops.

It is also typical to perform a blood test or radioallergosorbent test (RAST). The RAST measures your blood's immunoglobulin E antibodies to certain allergens.

Risk Factors For Allergic Rhinitis

Anyone can develop allergies, but if your family has a history of allergies, you're more likely to get allergic rhinitis. Also, asthma or atopic eczema increases your chance of developing allergic rhinitis.

This disease may be brought on by or made worse by certain external causes, such as:

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Chemicals
  • Cold temperatures
  • Humidity
  • Wind
  • Pollution of the air
  • Hairspray
  • Perfumes
  • Colognes
  • Smoke from wood
  • Fumes

Complications of Allergic Rhinitis

Unfortunately, allergic rhinitis cannot be stopped by itself. For those with allergies, getting proper treatment and management is essential to living a happy life. Following are a few complications that might result from hay fever:

  • Difficulty in sleeping due to symptoms that keep you up at night
  • Emergence or aggravation of asthma symptoms
  • Recurring ear infections
  • Recurrent sinus infections or sinusitis
  • Absences from work or school due to a decline in productivity
  • Recurring headaches

The negative effects of antihistamines might potentially result in complications. Sleeplessness, nervousness, and headache are among some of the negative effects. In addition, antihistamines occasionally have effects on the digestive, urinary, and circulatory systems.

Allergic Rhinitis in Children

Allergy rhinitis may also affect children and usually manifests before age 10. In addition, your child likely has seasonal allergic rhinitis if you observe that they experience cold-like symptoms around the same time every year.

Children experience symptoms that are comparable to those of adults. Allergic conjunctivitis, which typically affects children, is characterized by watery, bloodshot eyes. In addition to other symptoms, your child may potentially have asthma if you observe wheezing or shortness of breath. Consult your doctor if you think your child has allergies. It's crucial to acquire the appropriate diagnosis and care.

Keep your child inside during times of high pollen counts if they do have major seasonal allergies to reduce their exposure to allergens. During allergy season, washing their clothes and bed linens frequently and vacuuming may also be helpful. Your child might benefit from various therapies to alleviate their allergies. However, some drugs can have unwanted side effects, even in small amounts. Before giving your kid any over-the-counter allergy medicine, always consult your doctor.

Preventing Allergies

Managing your allergies before your body has a chance to react negatively to chemicals is the best method to avoid allergy symptoms. For the specific allergens to which you are particularly sensitive, take into account the following preventive measures:


The AAAAI advises beginning treatment with drugs prior to seasonal allergy outbreaks. For instance, you might want to start taking antihistamines if you are allergic to tree pollen in the spring before an allergic response has a chance to happen. Stay inside when pollen counts are at their highest, and wash quickly after being outside. During allergy season, you should also avoid drying any clothing on a line and keep your windows covered.

Pet dander

Ideally, you should restrict your contact with any animals to which you are allergic. Be careful to clean all surfaces if this isn't possible regularly. After handling a pet, wash your hands right afterwards, and keep your furry buddies off your bed. Additionally, it would be best if you washed your clothes after visiting a home with dogs.

Dust mites

You can ensure that your house is not conducive to dust mite growth to decrease dust mite exposure, and instead of sweeping, use a wet mop to clean hard floors. Use a HEPA-filtered vacuum if your home has carpet. Additionally, you should often dust any hard surfaces and wash your bedding in hot water once a week. Finally, reduce your exposure to dust mites while you sleep by using pillows and cases that prevent allergens.

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 most affordable healthcare platform provided by Bajaj Finserv Health and find the best specialist.

This platform 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, 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. It's time to take your health in your hands and begin the journey towards a healthier life!

Published on 23 Nov 2020Last updated on 20 Jan 2023

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

Dr. Parvesh Kumar

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Parvesh Kumar

, BHMS 1



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