Itching and runny nose – here’s what you should know

Image: Florida Institute for Innovation.

 

 

  

According to the Allergy Foundation South Africa, persistent and uncontrolled Allergic Rhinitis has been shown to limit children’s ability to learn and impede adult’s opportunity to work to the best of their ability. Like with other allergies, Allergic Rhinitis develops when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something within the environment that might cause no effect at all in other people.

 

Symptoms are predominantly found in the nose itself, with itching, a blocked or runny nose, sneezing or a post nasal drip being most common. Other symptoms affecting other parts of the body can also include itchy eyes, ears or palate, red eyes, sore throat, coughing, irritability and lack of sleep.

 

Dr Manjra says that unlike in the Northern Hemisphere where they are termed as specific seasonal allergies due to their distinct pollen seasons, Allergic Rhinitis in South Africa is generally termed as intermittent or persistent, with persistent Allergic Rhinitis being the most common.

 

Outdoor allergens include pollens from grass, trees and weeds and indoor allergens include pet hair, dust mites and mould.

 

South Africans living with Allergic Rhinitis in the more central regions of South Africa such as Gauteng and the Free State are generally more likely to suffer from grass pollen allergies, with a pollen season that unfortunately due to our temperate climate, lasts from September through to April, giving sufferers only a possible small reprieve during the colder winter months. Dr Manjra explains that coastal allergy sufferers are often more prone to house dust mites, mould and pet allergies which are most certainly persistent with symptoms lasting the whole year through.

 

Symptoms of those suffering from dust mite allergies are usually worse in humid coastal areas where the house dust mite levels are high, with symptoms also becoming worse indoors and at night because the dust mites are more likely to live in warm mattresses and bedding.

According to the World Allergy Organization, Allergic Rhinitis currently affects between 10 and 30 percent of the population globally with prevalence rates increasing.

 

Dr Manjra agrees that like other allergies, Allergic Rhinitis seems to be on the increase but this could be attributed to a variety of factors including something as simple as population growth. Other factors could include industrialisation, our changing diets, more people moving from rural to urban areas and increased air pollution.

 

He stresses that food allergies are not related to Allergic Rhinitis at all. Allergic Rhinitis is termed an inhalant allergy and can be very accurately diagnosed by your doctor with a simple and inexpensive skin or blood test.

 

Some sufferers can take action to decrease the triggers that cause their allergies.  Indoor allergy sufferers can use special “mite-proof” bedding and dehumidifiers to control mould, and can wash hands after petting an animal. For outdoor allergy sufferers, this is more difficult but some measures could include wearing glasses or sunglasses to keep pollen out of the eyes and keeping windows closed during high pollen periods.

 

Unfortunately, according to the Allergy Foundation South Africa, many sufferers do not seek help as they simply get used to living with these symptoms. Dr Manjra says that there are treatments available that have well-established efficacy and safety profiles.

 

These include nasal sprays which are suitable for everyday. 

Dr Manjra explains that antihistamines are also a suitable treatment option which can bring great relief to sufferers, especially as an add on treatment when symptoms persist after using a nasal spray.

Dr Manjra is very excited about the treatment area of immunotherapy which involves the long term desensitizing of patients to their particular allergen by using injections or drops under the tongue. While this can take anywhere between three and five years, this treatment can be very effective in altering the nature of the disease.

 

Speak to your doctor or pharmacist for more information about novel, effective and well established treatments to alleviate debilitating symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis. Go to http://www.allergyfoundation.co.za  or http://www.allerguard.co.za  for more

 

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