affect nearly 1/5 of the American people and are the cause of several
billion office visits annually. The nose is the most common site
affected by allergies. Allergy sufferers typically note nasal congestion
or thin, watery nasal drainage accompanied by watery, itchy eyes
and/or sneezing spells following exposure to an inhaled allergen.
Grasses, trees, mold, dust and pet dander are some of the most common
agents causing allergy symptoms.
rhinitis can be difficult to decipher from a sinus infection. Allergy
symptoms typically last for a more prolonged time and are not associated
with fever or purulent nasal secretions. Allergy symptoms are often
seasonal, with a high incidence in the fall and spring when increased
pollination from weeds, grasses and trees are noted.
treatment generally involves avoidance of the offending agent. This
is often difficult or impossible with inhaled allergens. Medical
treatment with antihistamines is the most common treatment to lessen
the symptoms of allergy exposure. To be most effective, the medication
should be taken prior to exposure to the allergen. Other treatment
include nasal steroid sprays which significantly decrease the nasal
swelling and drainage associated with inhalant allergies.
significant number of sinus infections start secondary to poorly
controlled allergies. Medication compliance is key to symptom control.
Occasionally, medications alone are not effective in controlling
allergy symptoms. In these cases, specific allergy testing is indicated
to determine the offending agent. Based on the test results, allergy
shots or immunotherapy may be prescribed.