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Allergic rhinitis: the pollen challenge

Allergic rhinitis is a common allergic disease caused by an abnormal response of the immune system. Its core feature is an overreaction to common allergens (such as dust mites, pollen, and mold spores) that are encountered in daily life. When allergens enter the nasal cavity, the immune system releases chemicals that cause congestion and inflammation of the nasal tissue, leading to various symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, and itchy nose.


Although allergic rhinitis is more common in spring and autumn, some people may show symptoms throughout the year. This not only affects the patient's physical health, but allergic rhinitis can also have significant effects, including decreased sleep quality, reduced work and study efficiency, and even the impact on social life. Although allergic rhinitis does not usually lead to serious health problems, it may affect the patient's overall health if it is not controlled for a long time.

History and Incidence

With the changes in the environment and human behavior, the incidence of allergic rhinitis is increasing. According to the World Health Organization, more than 1 billion people suffer from allergic rhinitis worldwide, with the incidence rate in some areas even as high as 30%. In developed countries, allergic rhinitis has become a long-term disease with a significant impact on personal health and socioeconomics.


Genetic factors, environmental factors, lifestyle, and other factors have an impact on the incidence of allergic rhinitis. The development of urbanization and industrialization, the increase in air pollution, and changes in lifestyle (such as reducing indoor time, changing dietary structure, etc.) may all lead to an increase in the incidence of allergic rhinitis. In addition, climate change may also have an impact on the incidence of allergic rhinitis, such as rising temperatures, and the instability of seasonal changes may increase the release of allergens and aggravate allergic symptoms.

Symptoms and Treatment

The main symptoms of allergic rhinitis include nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, nasal itching, and loss of smell. Patients often feel nasal congestion and difficulty breathing, accompanied by clear nasal discharge and frequent sneezing. The nasal mucosa may become red and swollen, causing nasal itching and discomfort. Some patients may also experience symptoms such as headache, itchy throat, and sore throat.


The main treatments for allergic rhinitis include drug therapy, immunotherapy, and lifestyle management. Medical treatment usually includes antihistamines, steroid nasal sprays, and nasal anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs can help patients relieve symptoms such as nasal congestion, itching, and runny nose, and improve their quality of life. For patients with severe allergic rhinitis or those who do not respond to medical treatment, immunotherapy may be an effective option. This treatment usually takes several years but can reduce symptoms and improve quality of life in the long term. By gradually exposing patients to allergens, the immune system gradually adapts, thereby reducing allergic reactions. Lifestyle management is also an important part of treating allergic rhinitis. Avoiding exposure to allergens is the key to treating exacerbations. This can be done by reducing exposure to allergens by using air purifiers, regularly cleaning dust in the home, and avoiding contact with pets.

Prognosis and Complications

The prognosis of allergic rhinitis is generally good, but if it is not treated or managed promptly, it may lead to a range of complications, such as sinusitis, otitis media, and asthma. Sinusitis is caused by infection and damage to the nasal mucosa, which can lead to facial pain and nasal congestion. Otitis media often occurs together with sinusitis and can cause symptoms such as ear pain, hearing loss, and ear discharge. Therefore, timely treatment and lifestyle management are essential, including avoidance of allergen exposure, medication and allergy immunotherapy, and regular check-ups with a doctor to keep the condition under control.

Preventive Measures

There are many factors to consider when preventing allergic rhinitis. Keep the indoor environment clean. Regularly cleaning floors, bedding, and household items, and using dehumidifiers and air purifiers can reduce the concentration of allergens such as indoor dust mites and mold spores. In addition, try to avoid outdoor activities, especially during pollen season, or wear a mask to reduce contact with allergens. Regular use of allergy medications is an important way to prevent allergic rhinitis. Nasal sprays and antihistamines can effectively relieve symptoms such as nasal congestion and runny nose.


In addition, it is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Good sleep, a healthy diet, and proper exercise can all help strengthen the immune system and reduce allergic reactions. Also, it is crucial to visit a doctor regularly and adjust the treatment plan according to symptoms. The doctor will develop a personalized treatment plan based on the patient's condition and provide professional advice and guidance. Through these comprehensive measures, the onset of allergic rhinitis can be avoided, the patient's quality of life can be improved, and the distress of symptoms can be reduced.



Reference

[1] Cleveland Clinic. “Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever): Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, 30 July 2020, Retrieved March 23, 2024 my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8622-allergic-rhinitis-hay-fever.

[2] NHS . “Overview - Allergic Rhinitis.” NHS, 2020, Retrieved March 23, 2024 www.nhs.uk/conditions/allergic-rhinitis/.

[3]  Jean, Tiffany . “Allergic Rhinitis: Practice Essentials, Background, Pathophysiology.” Retrieved March 23, 2024 Medscape.com, 26 Dec. 2018, emedicine.medscape.com/article/134825-overview.

[4] Contributors, WebMD Editorial. “Expert Advice on Handling Your Nasal Allergies.” Retrieved March 23,2024 WebMD, www.webmd.com/allergies/rhinitis.

[5] Publishing, Harvard Health. “Allergic Rhinitis: Your Nose Knows.” Harvard Health, Retrieved March 23, 2024 www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/allergic-rhinitis-your-nose-knows.

[6]“Allergic Rhinitis Information | Mount Sinai - New York.” Mount Sinai Health System, Retrieved March 23, 2024 www.mountsinai.org/health-library/diseases-conditions/allergic-rhinitis.

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