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Be ready for a severe allergy emergency.

Allergic Rhinitis


Allergic rhinitis

, or 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. Indoor dust mites, cockroaches, pet dander, or mold can also cause allergic rhinitis.

Common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy nose, eyes, or mouth
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Postnasal drip (nasal drainage down the back of your throat)
  • Cough or frequent throat clearing
  • Feeling tired or lethargic
  • Dark circles under your eyes

Call 911 for the following:

  • You have chest pain or shortness of breath.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have severe pain.
  • You cough up blood.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have ear or sinus pain, or a headache.
  • 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 trouble sleeping because of your symptoms.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Antihistamines help reduce itching, sneezing, and a runny nose. Some antihistamines can make you sleepy.
  • Nasal steroids help decrease inflammation in your nose.
  • Decongestants help clear your stuffy nose.
  • Immunotherapy may be needed if your symptoms are severe or other treatments do not work. Immunotherapy is used to inject an allergen into your skin. At first, the therapy contains tiny amounts of the allergen. Your healthcare provider will slowly increase the amount of allergen. This may help your body be less sensitive to the allergen and stop reacting to it. You may need immunotherapy for weeks or longer.

Manage allergic rhinitis:

The best way to manage allergic rhinitis is to avoid allergens that can trigger your symptoms. Any of the following may help decrease your symptoms:

  • Rinse your nose and sinuses with a salt water solution or use a salt water nasal spray. 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 healthcare provider how often to rinse your nose.
  • Reduce exposure to dust mites. Wash sheets and towels in hot water every week. Cover your pillows and mattresses with allergen-free covers. Limit the number of stuffed animals and soft toys your child has. Wash your child's toys in hot water regularly. Vacuum weekly and use a vacuum cleaner with an air filter. If possible, get rid of carpets and curtains. These collect dust and dust mites.
  • Reduce exposure to pollen. Keep windows and doors closed in your house and car. Stay inside when air pollution or 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.
  • Reduce exposure to 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. Bathe them often.
  • Reduce exposure to mold. Do not spend time in basements. Choose artificial plants instead of live plants. Keep your home's humidity at less than 45%. Do not have ponds or standing water in your home or yard.
  • Do not smoke. Avoid others who smoke. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 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.