Rhinitis is the swelling and inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose. It is classified as allergic or nonallergic.
Nonallergic rhinitis is usually caused by a viral infection, although irritants can also cause it. The nose is the most commonly infected part of the upper airways.
Allergic rhinitis is a respiratory disease associated with allergic symptoms in the nose, eyes, ears, throat, and palate. The condition is triggered when the patient inhales one or more allergens transported in the air.
The symptoms of allergic rhinitis that distinguish it from nonallergic rhinitis or common cold are itching the eyes, nose, mouth, throat, or skin. Typical symptoms of allergic rhinitis also include:
- Nasal blockage or congestion
- Red nasal cornea
- Sore throat
- Clogged ears
- Dark circles and swelling under the eyes
Triggers of allergic rhinitis
The primary triggers of allergic rhinitis are allergens and irritants. Some symptoms of allergic rhinitis are triggered by allergens in the open air, such as plant pollen and mold spores.
Other symptoms of allergic rhinitis are triggered throughout the year by indoor allergens, such as pet fur, dust mites, mold, and cockroach particles.
Irritants in general, such as tobacco smoke and the combustion of gases, can also trigger rhinitis symptoms.
Causes and risk factors
As its name suggests, allergic rhinitis is caused by an allergic reaction to an allergen.
An allergic reaction is associated with a hypersensitive immune system. The patient’s natural defense against infection and disease mistakenly considers that allergens are harmful and therefore react by producing antibodies to resist them.
These antibodies cause the cells to release several chemical substances that lead to an inflammation of the mucous membrane or the inner layer of the nose and an excess of mucus production, which produces symptoms such as sneezing and nasal obstruction.
The tendency to develop allergic rhinitis increases with a family history of a hypersensitive immune system or an allergy.
Environmental factors such as living with a smoker or being exposed to dust mites at a young age can also put a child at risk of developing allergic rhinitis.
In general, treatment options for allergic rhinitis include medications and allergen immunotherapy or allergy vaccination.
Prevention measures: to reduce the symptoms of allergic rhinitis in both adults and children, avoid allergens (such as house dust mites, mold, pets, pollen, and cockroaches), irritants, and inciting medications.
Medications: There are several medications available to treat allergic rhinitis, some of which are more effective in treating certain types of rhinitis (allergic and nonallergic), specific symptoms, and certain levels of severity of symptoms.
Some medications commonly used to treat allergic rhinitis include antihistamines, nasal steroids, corticosteroids, and decongestants.
These medications can be taken with a nebulizer and should be handled according to the instructions and prescriptions of the doctor, as they can have side effects, and not all are safe for children.
Other home remedies include the use of nasal saline and nasal irrigations.
Antihistamines are used to control the generalized symptoms of allergic rhinitis when taken regularly in the morning and at night.
Among the different types of antihistamines, cetirizine has been shown to have good safety in children older than six months.
A nasal steroid spray is required in addition to the first-line treatment for allergic rhinitis in children to reduce chronic nasal congestion.
It is practical to use a nasal spray containing antihistamines and nasal steroids, but this combination should be used only in adults and children over 12 years of age.
Oral corticosteroids, unlike nasal steroids, are not recommended for use in children, as they may pose a risk of limiting the growth potential of children.
Decongestants can reduce nasal congestion because they cause vasoconstriction in the nasal blood vessels and are safe in children but should never be used for more than five days at a time.
Excessive use of decongestants can lead to the effect of rebound congestion.
Nasal saline solution and irrigations have been suggested as a home treatment option for allergic rhinitis. The use of nasal saline solution has shown improvements in the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.