Perennial Sneezing or Perennial Allergic Rhinitis
Perennial allergic rhinitis occurs year-round.
It is usually triggered by indoor allergens such as house dust mite and pet dander. It's quite similar to hay fever - the allergen causes inflammation and irritation to the delicate linings in the nose and eyes.
Perennial allergic rhinitis is hereditary, and there is often a family predisposition.
What are the causes of perennial rhinitis?
Perennial allergic rhinitis can start as early in childhood and occurs throughout the year.
Common allergens include:
- droppings of house dust mites
- pet dander, urine
- indoor fungi spores on houseplants, carpets, upholstery
- food allergy
- flour causing occupational rhinitis to bakers
- drugs - oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy medications, aspirin and many other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
What are the symptoms?
Some common symptoms of perennial rhinitis include:
- Blocked, stuffy, runny nose
- Perennial allergic conjunctivitis – itchy, red, watery eyes
- Headaches and earache
- Post nasal drip
- Loss of taste and smell
- Disturbed sleep
- Poor concentration
What is the kind of treatment to be followed?
Doctors provide three types of options to the patient in the treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis-
1. Avoid the rhinitis causing allergen altogether-
Although total eradication of the allergen is not possible, but adopt measures to reduce exposure to the allergen.
Pollen: Avoid open grassy places, particularly in the morning and evening when it is breezy. Keep the windows in your house shut on a windy day.
House dust mite: Keep house well ventilated. Change your bed linen regularly, and observe cleanliness.
Animal allergens: Avoid furry animals in the house. If not possible, try to keep the pet outside.
Food: You may be allergic to certain foods like dairy products, certain seafoods, citrus fruits etc. Avoid eating such foods which trigger the rhinitis.
2. Drug prescription-
All medications are to be taken only under proper medical supervision, as some drugs may have potential side-effects. Wrong dosage might also worsen the condition, so do not be your own doctor for such conditions.
Low-dose anti-allergy nasal sprays and nose drops are the most effective treatment, but need to be used continuously on a daily basis throughout the year.
Decongestant tablets and anticholinergic drugs help relieve a stuffy, blocked nose, but should be used for short periods only, because of rebound congestion.
Anti-histamine medication also helps.
Corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce severe symptoms. They are effective because they act slowly and last longer than other types of medication.
Patients are advised drugs for allergic rhinitis if other techniques fail to control the symptoms.
Immunotherapy is usually considered in severe house dust mite allergic rhinitis where symptoms have become overpowering.
It involves the regular injection of increasing doses of the identified allergen, in order for the body to adjust and build up a resistance to the antigen. Hyposensitization or immunotherapy is offered as a last resort as the therapy is quite expensive and can increase the risk of triggering a secondary allergic reaction such as an asthma attack.
What steps can be taken to prevent allergic rhinitis?
The best possible way to prevent perennial allergic rhinitis is to avoid the allergen that causes it. For this, it may be imperative to go in for an allergy testing so as to identify the exact indoor allergen that flares the allergy.
- Observe symptoms of the allergy on a continuous basis – try to identify the causative allergen.
- If you are allergic to animals, avoid pets altogether, or restrict the areas in your home where your pet is allowed to go.
- Minimise use of heavy upholstery, carpets. Instead go for neat floors which are easy to clean.
- Avoid unnecessary exposure to other environmental irritants such as insect sprays, tobacco smoke, air pollution, and fresh tar or paint.
- A small amount of vaseline around the eyes and nostrils will restrict some amount of pollen from entering that cause a reaction.
- One may also find it helpful to breathe through a wet towel or tissue if it seems that the symptoms are getting acute.
- Wash clothes and bedding regularly in hot water.
- Keep your house well ventilated to avoid fungus growth. Get rid of old books, leather articles, carpets, and plants which become a haven for mould growth.
Follow regularly good health practices - exercise daily, avoid smoking, avoid air pollutants, eat a balanced diet, and supplement diet with vitamins, especially Vitamin C and Vitamin B complex.