Are your eyes and ears itchy? Is your nose stuffed and runny? Are you repeatedly sneezing? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have allergic rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis is also known as seasonal allergies or hay fever. It is different than allergies from other things, such as pet dander, peanuts, and dust mites. Unlike with these allergies, allergic rhinitis is primarily seasonal for most people.
It often triggers as soon as winter finishes and spring begins. This is because common allergic rhinitis triggers, such as pollen, grasses, and weeds, begin to grow rapidly during this time period. Allergic rhinitis is most often characterized by symptoms such as a stuffy or runny nose, watery and itchy eyes, headaches, coughing, hives, and sneezing.
Allergic Rhinitis Causes
It’s good to have a well-working immune system, but some people have an overactive or oversensitive immune system. This causes your body to attack allergens as if they were foreign invaders. Allergens are not infections or illnesses, but your body produces antibodies to fight them because it thinks they are dangerous. Antibodies fight foreign invaders, and thus, produce symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis, such as a clogged and runny nose, watery and itchy eyes, itchy and runny ears, an itchy throat, mucus buildup, fatigue, and feeling feverish.
The first time you come into contact with an allergen, you may not experience an allergic reaction. However, your body will have recorded it — a process called sensitization — and then produce a reaction the second or third time you come into contact with the allergen, after which the antibodies will recognize it and proceed to attack it. This causes your body to release histamines, which can cause inflammation and mucus buildup. Someone with a balanced immune response will not react this way.
Treatment for allergic rhinitis often involves trigger avoidance and symptom control. First and foremost, people with allergic rhinitis should attempt to avoid their triggers. This means staying indoors when the pollen count is high and avoiding outdoor activities when possible during allergy season as much as possible. For symptom control, people with allergic rhinitis take antihistamines. These medications are available over-the-counter and by prescription, depending on the brand and dosage. Antihistamines calm your immune system’s response to the triggers. As a result, your body’s reaction to the allergens is less intense, so you experience less symptoms.
Treatment for Allergic Rhinitis in Illinois
If you think you may have allergic rhinitis, the best thing to do is get a diagnosis and treatment plan in place. Allergic rhinitis can be managed with the help of an allergy specialist and a prevention plan. This means knowing how to recognize your triggers and having a plan in place to prevent severe symptoms (such as staying indoors on high pollen count days and taking antihistamines when necessary).
If you want an experienced allergy specialist to help treat your allergies, visit the experts at Oak Brook Allergists today. We can help you figure out what you’re allergic to and come up with a treatment plan to manage the condition.
To schedule an appointment, call us at (630) 574-0460 or send us an appointment request now.