Understanding and controlling your respiratory allergies

Allergic Rhinitis

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is swelling of the inside of your nose. The swelling is a reaction to allergens in the air. An allergen can be anything that causes an allergic reaction. Allergies to weeds, grass, trees, or mold often cause seasonal allergic rhinitis. This only happens during certain seasons of the year. Some people have allergic rhinitis almost all year. This is usually caused by allergies to indoor dust mites (tiny bugs that live in house dust) or cockroaches. It may be caused by pet dander (tiny dead skin flakes) or indoor mold.


AFTER YOU LEAVE:

Medicines:

Medicines may control your symptoms and help you feel better. Mild or seasonal symptoms may be treated differently than severe or year-round symptoms. You may need one or more of the following:

  • Antihistamines: These medicines help reduce itching, sneezing, and a runny nose. Some antihistamines can make you sleepy. Ask your primary healthcare provider which one is best for you.

  • Decongestants: These medicines help clear your stuffy nose. Do not use them for more than 3 days in a row, because they can make your symptoms worse.

  • Nasal steroids: This is a mist you spray in your nose. It is used to decrease swelling.

  • Mast cell stabilizers: These are medicines you spray in your nose to help decrease swelling in your nose.

  • Leukotriene antagonists: These medicines help decrease swelling and the amount of mucus in your nose. They are taken as pills and require a prescription.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or allergy specialist as directed:

You may need to see an allergist often to control your symptoms. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

How to manage allergic rhinitis:

Use a sinus rinse device to rinse your nasal passages with saline (salt water) solution. This will help thin the mucus in your nose and rinse away pollen and dirt. It will also help reduce swelling so you can breathe normally. Ask your primary healthcare provider how often to rinse your sinuses. Do the following to help reduce the amount of allergens around you:

  • Reduce dust mites: Wash sheets and towels in hot water every week. If your child has allergic rhinitis, try to limit the number of stuffed animals and soft toys your child has. Wash your child's toys in hot water regularly. Cover your pillows and mattresses with allergen-free covers. Use a vacuum cleaner with an air filter. If possible, get rid of carpet and curtains. These collect dust and dust mites. Call an exterminator if you think you have cockroaches in your home.

  • Reduce pollen: Keep windows and doors closed in your house and car. Stay inside when the pollen count is high. Run your air conditioner on recycle, and change air filters often. Shower and wash your hair before bed every night to rinse away pollen. Avoid raking leaves or mowing your lawn.

  • Reduce pet dander: If possible, do not keep cats, dogs, birds, or other pets. If you do keep pets in your home, keep them out of bedrooms and carpeted rooms, and bathe them often.

  • Reduce mold: Do not spend time in basements. Choose artificial plants instead of live plants. Keep your home's humidity at 35% to 40%. Do not have ponds or standing water in your home or yard.

  • Avoid anything that worsens your symptoms: Many other things may trigger allergic rhinitis or make it worse. These include paint, tobacco smoke, perfume, and hairspray. Keep a diary of your symptoms to help you learn what makes them worse.

Contact your primary healthcare provider or allergy specialist if:

  • You have a fever.

  • You have a headache that is severe or will not go away.

  • Your symptoms get worse, even after treatment.

  • You have yellow, green, brown, or bloody mucus coming from your nose.

  • Your nose is bleeding or you have pain inside your nose.

  • You have questions or concerns about your treatment or condition.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You cough up blood.

  • You have chest pain or shortness of breath.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Allergic Rhinitis (Discharge Care)

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