Allergic rhinitis is an inflammation of the nasal membranes that presents with any of nasal congestion, itching, sneezing and rhinorrhea or a combination of any or all of them.
The disease is related to the following processes: auto-immune and has an incidence of about 1,500 / 100.000.
Allergic rhinitis is popularly called "Hay fever". This is because it is triggered by some precise seasonal plants that are mostly prevalent during the haying season. It is however possible to suffer from this condition throughout the year, haying season or not .
The pollen responsible for causing haying fever varies from region to region and individual to individual. It is mostly caused by the pollens of wind pollinated plants and examples of these plants include pine, alder, birch, hazel, willow, poplar, plane, lime and olive. It could also result from exposure to grass pollens from grasses like timothy and ryegrass. Weeds that may induce an allergic reaction are plantain, ragweed and mugwort . Allergic rhinitis can also be caused by spores of outdoor molds like apsergillus and penicillin and by house dust mites, furry household pets, cockroaches and rodents .
Some people develop a reaction when they are exposed to certain fragrances, especially ones containing Balsam of Peru.
There is a cumulative prevalence rate of 20% in the United States with as much as 40 million people suffering from this disease. In the international community, the prevalence varies among countries, largely due to their different geographies and availability and potency of allergens.
Morbidity and mortality from allergic rhinitis on its own is insignificant. The condition however occurs concurrently with other conditions like asthma and otitis media which may cause significant morbidity and even mortality.
Most cases develop by age 20 years but it may develop far earlier. In children, it affects more males than females but the ratio evens out in adulthood. It affects people of all races and has no predilection for a particular race .
The long term prognosis of allergic rhinitis, if it occurs alone, is good if it has developed early in childhood as symptoms tend to diminish as one gets older. When people with allergic rhinitis have other coexisting disorders, e.g. asthma, the morbidity is increased and mortality is seen in some cases. Although the condition is not considered severe, it causes enough discomfort to interfere with normal daily function.
The treatment of allergic rhinitis is three pronged.
Prevention involves reduction of exposure to known allergens as much as possible and regular use of drugs .