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It’s just not funny
When your nose is runny;
You feel all soggy,
Hoarse and froggy.
Your throat is scratching;
The germs are hatching.
You know it’s catching
KERCHOOO!
– “Runny Nose” by Kay Winters

Thanks to nose, beyond the sense of smell it has another very important function! It is literally the guardian of our body’s respiratory system. The air tubes which carry air into our lungs, the nose moistens and warms the air that we breathe in, and filters out a lot of pollution before the air enters lungs.

If a person repeatedly suffers from sneezing with running nose that itches and feels stuffy, it could be allergic rhinitis.

Myth: Every runny, stuffy nose, is not bad cold.
Truth: Allergic rhinitis is not “simply” a cold, and if it is not treated properly, it can lead to more serious problems in the long run.

What is Allergic Rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis an allergy of the nose.
Before we understand Allergic Rhinitis we should first of all understand “What is allergy?”
Human body has a unique defense system called ‘Immune System’. The Immune system fights and protects us from diseases just like the army which protects a country from adversaries. When harmful things such as bacteria or viruses enter human body, the immune system rightly recognizes them as “enemy” and attacks them.

But at times our immune system gets confused about the enemy. It reacts to harmless things like dust particles, the hair of animals, the pollen from plants and trees, and sometimes even certain food items.

Symptoms: Besides nose, allergy can affect various parts of our body such as the skin and eyes. There is excessive sneezing, itching and watering from the nose and eyes. The congested nose can get blocked.

What causes Allergic Rhinitis?

Pollens from plants and trees, house dust mites, animal dander, smoke and other pollutants and sometimes even drugs (especially aspirin) are some of the allergens which trigger conditions like allergic rhinitis.

Don’t confuse Allergic Rhinitis with Common Cold.

Allergic rhinitis is caused by allergens, whereas a cold is caused by bacteria or virus. Both these problems are accompanied by sneezing, running/blocked and itchy nose. Here are some of the signs which can help us to identify allergic rhinitis:

• There is no fever and body ache.

• The mucus in nose is clear and runny, not yellow/green and thick.

• One may sneeze many a times before the sneezing attack stops.

• There is itchy feeling in Nose, Ears and Throat.

• Eyes water a lot.

• These problems stay longer than a typical cold.

Can Allergic Rhinitis cause serious complications?

Though allergic rhinitis does not threaten life, it can certainly disrupt one’s life. It affects sleep pattern; performance at school or work, and makes one feel and look miserable. All that is bad enough, but also, if allergic rhinitis is not treated properly, there can be other problems, some of them more serious, like:

• Conjunctivitis: The conjunctivitis is the thin covering of the white part of our eye. An allergic reaction can cause swelling, redness, itching and watering of the eyes.

• Nasal Polyps: Polyps are fleshy growths caused by swelling of the lining of the nose. Polyps can become large enough to block breathing.

• Sinusitis: Fluid collects in the sinuses, which are hollow cavities in the bony area around the nose. Bacteria collect in this fluid and cause infections.

• Asthma: Frequent symptoms of allergic rhinitis like swelling, itching and watering may lead to asthma in the long run.

How can we treat Allergic Rhinitis?

“Say goodbye to the habit of Pill-Popping. Self-Medication can harm in the long run. Consult a doctor, who will study symptoms and condition and then suggests right treatment.”

Exposure to allergens should be avoided. Follow few essential steps which help to control things that make Allergic Rhinitis bad to worse:

• Exposure to furry/hairy animals should be avoided. If you have a pet, keep it out of your bedroom/living area.

• Ensure curtains, bed sheets, carpets and soft toys are washed frequently.

• Enclose mattresses in plastic covers and if possible, if possible change the foam mattresses that are more than five years old.

• Vacuuming is better option than sweeping. Clean furniture and doors with damp cloth, because this removes dust better than dry dusting and sweeping.

• Make sure walls of your house are free of mould and fungi. Use mild solution of bleach to clean and get rid of moulds.

• Do not smoke, and make your home a “No-Smoking Area”.

Following these simple steps would certainly ease your life with Allergic Rhinitis.

Courtesy: This post has been prepared by Dr Raminderjit Singh.

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