Allergic Rhinitis in Tampa and Spring Hill, FL
Allergic rhinitis is one of the most recognizable signs of allergies. The condition causes sneezing, runny nose, sniffling, congestion and other symptoms. Living in Tampa, Spring Hill and surrounding areas in Florida exposes you to many allergens, and effective diagnosis and treatment from the board-certified Otolaryngologist/Head and Neck Surgeons of Suncoast ENT Surgical Specialists can help alleviate allergic rhinitis and other allergy-related symptoms.
What Is Allergic Rhinitis?
Often referred to as hay fever or allergies, allergic rhinitis flares up when your immune system overreacts to the particles that you breathe. The particles, or allergens, are simply substances that can cause an allergic reaction. With the allergens in your body, your immune system attacks them, causing symptoms such as a runny nose and sneezing.
The symptoms of allergies usually appear when you come into contact with allergens. Sometimes symptoms appear only at certain times of the year, but allergies can happen several times a year. You may even experience other problems such as ear infections or sinusitis because of your allergies. The allergens may affect you less over the years, and your symptoms could also lessen in severity.
What Are the Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis?
When you have allergic rhinitis, you usually experience:
- Sneezing repeatedly, particularly after you wake up in the morning
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Itchy nose, throat and ears
- Postnasal drip and a runny
The drainage from allergies is usually thin and clear. However, a nasal infection or sinusitis may result in thick, cloudy or yellow nasal discharge.
What Are the Causes of Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergens, such as dust and pollen, trigger your allergies and cause allergic rhinitis. People with allergic rhinitis breathe in the allergens, which in turn, causes the body to release histamine. The release of this natural-occurring chemical causes symptoms such as mucus production, itching, and swelling.
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen that is similar to an allergic reaction to mold, dust and pet dander. The pollens that cause hay fever vary from person to person and from region to region. Hay fever does not usually develop from large pollens that you can see. Instead, tiny pollens that are hard to see are often the cause, including those from:
- Evergreen and deciduous trees
The amount of airborne pollen is the deciding factor for developing hay fever symptoms. Dry, hot, windy days are likely to have more airborne pollen than damp, cool, rainy days when the pollen washes to the ground.
Allergies are common, but your environment and genes could put you more at risk of having allergies. The likelihood of people developing allergies is passed down through their families. Some disorders are related to allergies, such as asthma and eczema. The risk of a child having allergies is greater when the mother has allergies. If both parents have allergies, then the child is even more likely to have allergies.
How Is Allergic Rhinitis Diagnosed?
To determine whether you have allergies, your doctor asks you about the symptoms that you experience and gives you an examination. The doctor can differentiate between allergies and other problems by reviewing your symptoms when you get them, and what makes them better or worse. You may need to undergo an allergy test to determine the cause of an allergy that gives you severe symptoms.
At Suncoast ENT Surgical Specialists, we use the latest diagnostic testing that relies on both intradermal and prick methods. Intradermal testing involves the injection of a tiny amount of an allergen under the skin to see if it causes an allergic reaction. Prick testing involves the skin being scratched with the allergen.
Allergic Rhinitis Treatment
The best way to treat allergy symptoms is to avoid the cause of your allergies. While it is not always possible to avoid allergens, you can take steps to reduce your exposure.
Numerous medications are available for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Your doctor may prescribe a medication based on your symptoms, the severity of those symptoms, your age and any other medical conditions that you have, such as asthma.
A nasal wash may remove mucus from your nose if you have mild allergic rhinitis. A saline solution can be purchased at a pharmacy or drugstore. However, you can make your own with 1 cup of warm water, a ½ teaspoon of salt and a pinch of baking soda.
Treatments for allergic rhinitis include:
As immunotherapy, some doctors recommend allergy shots if you cannot avoid certain allergens and if it is hard for you to control the symptoms. Treatment involves regular injections of the allergen that increase in dose every time they are administered. Allergy shots are intended to help your body adjust to the antigen.
- Antihistamine medications work well in treating the symptoms of allergies, particularly when the symptoms do not last long or do not often occur.
- The medications can be purchased without a prescription. When taken by mouth, antihistamines can relieve mild to moderate symptoms but might make you sleepy. Before giving a child an antihistamine, ask a doctor because the medication could interfere with learning.
- Some over-the-counter antihistamines such as cetirizine (Zyrtec) and fexofenadine (Allegra) do not make you sleepy or reduce this side effect. These usually do not affect learning.
- The antihistamine azelastine (Astelin) is a nasal spray that can treat allergic rhinitis.
- A nasal corticosteroid spray is the most effective allergic rhinitis treatment.
- Corticosteroids work best when they are used continuously, but the medications are also helpful when utilized over short periods.
- Several brands of corticosteroids are available for both adults and children.
- Decongestants may help reduce symptoms such as congestion in the nose.
- Nasal decongestant sprays should not be utilized for more than three days.
- Using over-the-counter saline sprays with benzalkonium chloride in them may worsen the symptoms and result in infection.
Sometimes the allergy symptoms can be prevented by avoiding the allergens that you know trigger a reaction. During pollen season, people who are prone to hay fever should stay inside and in an air-conditioned environment whenever they can. The pollen season that affects one person might be different from the pollen season that affects another person based on the types of pollen that trigger their allergies.
- Spring is when most trees produce pollen.
- Late spring and summer are when grass usually produces pollen.
- Late summer and early autumn are when ragweed and similar plants produce pollen.
Sniffles, sneezing, runny nose — if you live with these symptoms, you may have allergic rhinitis. To determine the cause of your symptoms and to find out which treatment is right for you, contact Suncoast ENT Surgical Specialists in Tampa or Spring Hill.