Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, is a type of inflammation in the nose and occurs when the immune system overreacts to allergens in the air. Allergic rhinitis can occur seasonally or year-round when you breathe in common allergens such as dust, animal dander, or pollen. Pollen is the main culprit of hay fever symptoms. Plants that cause hay fever are trees, grasses, and ragweed. These pollen grains are small and carried by the wind making it easy to get into the eyes, nose, and mouth.
The amount of pollen in the air can affect whether hay fever symptoms develop or not. We recommend checking the pollen count in your area each morning to determine if you will feel mild or severe allergy symptoms. Many patients feel severe symptoms in spring and summer; however, fall can also trigger hay fever due to ragweed pollen. That’s why it’s important to treat allergic rhinitis year-round.
Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever)
Symptoms of allergic rhinitis can include:
- Itchy nose, mouth, eyes, throat, and skin
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Stuffy nose (nasal congestion)
- Clogged ears and decreased sense of smell
- Sore throat
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Puffiness under the eyes
- Fatigue and irritability
- Headache or migraine
You may experience all or some of the symptoms within minutes of exposure to an allergen. Symptoms can also occur when you eat food that you are allergic to. If you experience these symptoms, consult with one of our specialists for a personalized treatment plan.
Allergic Rhinitis Diagnosis
Allergy testing helps determine the cause of allergic rhinitis. At NY Allergy & Sinus Centers, we offer a variety of allergy testing to quickly diagnose your allergic condition. Our available methods of allergy testing include skin prick, patch, intradermal, or blood tests. Skin prick testing is the most common method of allergy testing and only takes about 20 minutes to complete.
Our skin prick tests can diagnose more than 40 allergens during one visit to save time and money. In some cases, we may verify your allergy with an intradermal test for an accurate diagnosis. Visit one of our six allergy centers today to diagnose your allergic rhinitis.
Allergic Rhinitis Treatment (Hay Fever)
The best treatment for allergic rhinitis is avoidance. However, we understand that it is not always possible to avoid allergens. That’s why we suggest beginning allergy immunology. This treatment comes in the form of shots to help your immune system become less sensitive to certain allergens.
Allergy shots are very effective in controlling your hay fever symptoms. You will experience less sneezing, coughing, and asthma symptoms as well as nasal congestion, watery eyes, runny nose, and itchy eyes. They can also help control eczema. While the treatment is a long term commitment, it is worth the effort to feel better each day as allergy shots significantly improve your quality of life. Talk to our allergists to determine if you’re a candidate for allergy shots.
Along with allergy shots, you may need antihistamines to help soothe your symptoms. Antihistamines come in the form of pills and sprays. Since there are many over-the-counter allergy medications available, you should discuss your options with a Board Certified Allergist. All antihistamines are not equal and each patient reacts differently to medications. Book an appointment with NY Allergy & Sinus Centers to learn more about your treatment options.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Rhinitis?
Rhinitis is the general term for inflammation of the mucous membrane found in the nose. This inflammation causes excess amounts of mucus to be generated, usually resulting in a runny nose or post-nasal drip.
What Is Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis is a type of rhinitis that is caused by an allergic response in the body. Symptoms can include a runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, itchy nose, and congestion.
What Causes Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis is triggered by allergens. The most common allergens that cause rhinitis are dust mites, pollen, mold spores, and animal skin, urine, and saliva.
What Is Perennial Allergic Rhinitis?
Perennial allergies are those that last year-round. They are caused by common indoor allergens like animal dander, the remnants of cockroaches, dust mites, and indoor molds.
What Is Non-allergic (irritant) rhinitis?
Non-allergic rhinitis is rhinitis caused by pollution, smoke, strong smells, particles in the air, weather changes, or similar irritants. It can also occur as a result of a thyroid disorder, pregnancy, or as a side effect of certain medications. Non-allergic rhinitis can cause symptoms year-round, including nasal congestion.
What Is NARES?
Non-allergic rhinitis w/ eosinophilia syndrome (NARES) is characterized by the presence of eosinophils (specific blood cells seen in allergy) in nasal secretions, but negative allergy skin tests. Symptoms and medical treatment are similar to allergic rhinitis. Two factors that affect this condition are environmental changes and nasal polyps.
What Is Rhinitis Medicamentosa?
Rhinitis medicamentosa is a type of rhinitis that results from the overuse of non-prescription nose sprays that work by constricting blood vessels in the lining of the nose. This kind of rhinitis is best treated by stopping the use of the nasal spray that has caused the problem, though this solution may temporarily result in severe congestion. Your NYC allergist may recommend alternative treatments, such as a saline nasal spray or topical corticosteroids to help you through this transition.
What Is Structural Rhinitis?
Structural rhinitis is a form of rhinitis that is a result of structural abnormalities in the nose, specifically the septum – the cartilage in your nose that separates the right and left sides. These abnormalities can be something that you were born with, such as small nasal passages, or the result of an injury, such as a broken nose. Structural rhinitis occurs year-round and can result in increased congestion in only one nostril.
What Are Nasal Polyps?
Nasal polyps are growths on the mucus membrane of the nose that can cause symptoms of rhinitis, especially congestion. Nasal polyps can also interfere with your ability to smell or cause recurrent sinusitis. Polyps generally begin between 20 & 40 years old, can cause year-round symptoms, and may be related to aspirin sensitivity & asthma.
How Is Allergic Rhinitis Diagnosed?
Allergy testing at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers can diagnose allergic rhinitis. Tests may include skin prick, patch, intradermal, or blood tests.
How Is Allergic Rhinitis Treated?
You can treat symptoms of allergic rhinitis with antihistamines. We also recommend allergy shots to treat symptoms long term.