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Allergic rhinitis is caused by the body’s immune system overreacting with inflammation to counter a perceived threat from a foreign substance, such as pet dander, pollen, dust, mold and many other substances that most people should not typically have a reaction to. During an allergy attack, the body releases histamines, which causes swelling and itching followed by nasal congestion, sinus and ear blockage along with other symptoms of runny nose and postnasal drainage.

Symptoms

In some people, the immune system’s overreaction leads to classic allergy symptoms, including:

  • Sneezing
  • A runny or stuffed nose
  • Itching, red, watery eyes
  • In more serious allergic reactions, patients can have difficulty breathing, tightness or wheezing in the chest, hives, or a swollen face, lips or tongue

Allergic rhinitis should be diagnosed and treated to prevent progression into more serious consequences such as:

  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Ear blockage and fluid
  • Asthma
  • Anaphylaxis – a severe allergic reaction that sends the body into shock

dust mite

Common Allergens

While there are a wide variety of allergies, those who are known to be allergic to some of the most prevalent ones should be tested:

  • Dust mites
  • Seasonal – pollen from weeds, grass, and trees; sometimes referred to as “hay fever”
  • Pet dander
  • Mold and mildew

Allergies should be diagnosed and then treated as they can have much more serious consequences than just a stuffy nose and watery eyes. Left untreated, allergies can lead to:

  • Sinusitis
  • Infections of the ears and lungs
  • Asthma
  • Anaphylaxis – a severe allergic reaction that sends the body into shock, lowers blood pressure, and restricts breathing within seconds or minutes of exposure to the allergen

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