The best way to prevent allergic rhinitis is to avoid the allergen. This may mean changing your habits, or even giving away a pet or moving to another house if the symptoms are unbearable and don't respond to medications.
If the allergen is something you can't completely avoid, like dust mites, here are some steps you can take to make your home a haven:
- Remove furniture that collects dust (e.g., carpets, draperies, and stuffed chairs).
- If possible, use central air conditioning during high pollen and mould times.
- Put special dust mite covers on mattresses.
- Wash floors frequently with a wet mop.
- Reduce air humidity with a dehumidifier to maintain indoor humidity around 40% to 45%.
- Install a high-efficiency air filter called a HEPA filter.
- Use fungicide (e.g., equal parts household bleach and water) on sinks, shower stalls, vegetable storage areas, and garbage pails.
- Remove houseplants (a common source of mould).
- Stay indoors during high pollen times.
Keep in mind that it is not always possible to control the environment or to eliminate or avoid allergens, especially those that are airborne. Many people need medication treatment for relief. Fortunately, most people respond well to medications. The therapy of choice will depend on your symptoms, the severity of your symptoms, your past response to medications, and other medical conditions that you have, if any.
Treatment for mild symptoms is usually antihistamines taken orally (e.g., chlorpheniramine*, diphenhydramine, cetirizine, loratadine, fexofenadine, desloratadine), as a nose spray (e.g., levocabastine), or as an eye drop (e.g., olopatadine). Your doctor or pharmacist can help you choose the medication best suited to your needs. For example, many oral antihistamines are now "non-drowsy." People with certain medical conditions (e.g., glaucoma, prostate problems) should consult their doctor before using certain antihistamines.
It is important to know that some products contain antihistamines plus decongestants for symptom relief. Again, seeking advice from a health professional is recommended as those with medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes must use caution with these types of medications.
A corticosteroid nose spray (e.g., budesonide, ciclesonide, fluticasone, flunisolide, mometasone) can be tried if antihistamines aren't working. Corticosteroid sprays can be used if rhinitis symptoms are chronic or if symptoms are moderate to severe. For seasonal allergies, some people may find that nasal sprays, eye drops, and inhalations containing sodium cromoglycate are effective in preventing allergic rhinitis if treatment is started before allergy season and used on a regular basis.
An anticholinergic nose spray (e.g., ipratropium) may also be used to help reduce runny nose symptoms. Another medication that may be tried when other medications have not worked or have not been tolerated is called montelukast. Saline nose sprays and lubricant eye drops may also help with nose and eye symptoms.
Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should consult their doctor or pharmacist before beginning treatment for allergic rhinitis.
If allergen avoidance and medical treatment for allergic rhinitis aren't effective, allergen immunotherapy may be an option. Allergen immunotherapy may be referred to as desensitization, hyposensitization, or simply as allergy shots. Small amounts of the allergen are injected regularly while slowly increasing the dosage. The hope is that the immune reaction becomes weaker and weaker as the body gets used to the presence of the allergen.
Allergy shots are initially given 1 or 2 times each week. After about 6 months of weekly shots, maintenance treatment is started. Maintenance shots are usually given just once each month. After 3 to 5 years, some people can stop getting shots.
Allergen immunotherapy isn't risk-free. Rarely, the person may have a system-wide immune reaction called anaphylaxis, which can be fatal. People receiving allergen immunotherapy have to wait in the clinic with a physician present for half an hour after each shot in case there is a reaction. The best time to start desensitization is at the end of the annual allergic period.
*All medications have both common (generic) and brand names. The brand name is what a specific manufacturer calls the product (e.g., Tylenol®). The common name is the medical name for the medication (e.g., acetaminophen). A medication may have many brand names, but only one common name. This article lists medications by their common names. For information on a given medication, check our Drug Information database. For more information on brand names, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/Allergic-Rhinitis