Allergic rhinitis is a seasonal or year-round IgE-mediated inflammation of the nasal mucosa and upper air passages. The nasal symptoms of both seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis include sneezing, runny nose, nasal obstruction, nasal itchiness and swelling. Sneezing is an involuntary physiological response to the irritation of the nasal mucosa. Basically, it’s a defense mechanism that helps expel bacteria, viruses, dust, and other foreign particles from the body. Histamine, a chemical in the body produced by inflammatory cells is released causing allergic reaction. Rhinorrhea, commonly referred to as “runny nose” is also a bodily defense mechanism wherein a clear watery discharge is expelled from the nasal turbinates. The nose provides the main route through which inhaled air enters and leaves the lower airways. Furthermore, the nose acts as an air purifier eliminating foreign material and particles. Also, nerve endings in the nose are stimulated, leading to the itchiness of the nose. These allergy symptoms may affect a patient’s quality of life in different ways. The symptoms may interrupt sleep, work, and other normal day-to-day activities. Prescribed and over-the-counter antihistamine medication can provide temporary relief.
Allergic rhinitis may sometimes be accompanied by allergic conjunctivitis. The symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include itchiness, lacrimation (tears or clear watery discharge from the eyes), redness, and swelling of the conjunctiva portion of the eye. Like allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis is caused by a histamine-mediated hypersensitivity reaction. Eye allergy symptoms may occur when foreign material, such as pollen, travels through the air via the wind, and is blown into the eye.