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Allergic rhinitis - self-care

Hay fever - self-care; Seasonal rhinitis - self-care; Allergies - allergic rhinitis - self-care

Allergic rhinitis is a group of symptoms that affect your nose. They occur when you breathe in something you are allergic to, such as dust mites, animal dander, or pollen.

Allergic rhinitis is called hay fever when it is caused by plant pollen and other outdoor particles.

Avoid Your Triggers

Things that make allergies worse are called triggers. It may be impossible to completely avoid all triggers. But, you can do many things to limit your or your child's exposure to them:

Some changes you may need to make include:

  • Installing furnace filters or other air filters
  • Removing furniture and carpets from your floors
  • Using a dehumidifier to dry the air in your house
  • Changing where your pets sleep and eat
  • Avoiding certain outdoor tasks
  • Changing how you clean your house

The amount of pollen in the air can affect whether hay fever symptoms develop. More pollen is in the air on hot, dry, windy days. On cool, damp, rainy days, most pollen is washed to the ground.

Medicines for Allergic Rhinitis

Nasal corticosteroid sprays are the most effective treatment. Many brands are available. You can buy some brands without a prescription. For other brands, you need a prescription.

  • They work best when you use them every day.
  • It may take 2 or more weeks of steady use for your symptoms to improve.
  • They are safe for children and adults.

Antihistamines are medicines that work well for treating allergy symptoms. They are often used when symptoms do not occur very often or do not last very long.

  • Many can be bought as a pill, capsule, or liquid without a prescription.
  • Older antihistamines can cause sleepiness. They may affect a child's ability to learn and make it unsafe for adults to drive or use machinery.
  • Newer antihistamines cause little or no sleepiness or learning problems.

Antihistamine nasal sprays work well for treating allergic rhinitis. They are only available with a prescription.

Decongestants are medicines that help dry up a runny or stuffy nose. They come as pills, liquids, capsules, or nasal sprays. You can buy them over-the-counter (OTC), without a prescription.

  • You can use them along with antihistamine pills or liquids.
  • DO NOT use nasal spray decongestants for more than 3 days in a row.
  • Talk to your child's health care provider before giving decongestants to your child.

Nasal Wash

For mild allergic rhinitis, a nasal wash can help remove mucus from your nose. You can buy a saline spray at a drugstore or make one at home. To make a nasal wash, use 1 cup (240 milliliters) of warm water, 1/2 a teaspoon (2.5 grams) of salt, and a pinch of baking soda.

When to Call the Doctor

Make an appointment with your provider if:

  • You have severe allergy or hay fever symptoms.
  • Your symptoms do not get better when you treat them.
  • You are wheezing or coughing more.

References

Corren J, Baroody FM, Pawankar R. Allergic and nonallergic rhinitis. In: Adkinson NF Jr, Bochner BS, Burks AW, et al, eds. Middleton's Allergy Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 42.

Seidman MD, Gurgel RK, Lin SY, et al. Clinical practice guideline: allergic rhinitis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015;152(1 Suppl):S1-S43. PMID: 25644617 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25644617.

Wright LS, Phipatanakul W. Environmental remediation in the treatment of allergy and asthma: latest updates. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2014;14(3):419. PMID: 24488258 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24488258.

    • How to use nasal sprays

      Animation

    •  

      How to use nasal sprays - Animation

      Hi. I'm Dr. Alan Greene and I would like to give you a tip for how to use nasal sprays that contain medications. This is especially useful for the steroid nasal sprays that are used to treat allergies, but also true for the ones used for a cold or other things as well. Now, the middle part of the nose between the two nostrils is called the septum and it's got cartilage in there and a lot of blood vessels where nosebleeds typically come from. And when the medication squirts straight into the septum that can cause side effects - irritation, bleeding, and other things like that. Now most of the time when people use a nasal spray what they will do is either use the same hand for both sides or use one hand for the nostril closest to you and one for the other. I'm going to suggest you do just the opposite of that. You take one hand and squirt into the other nostril. When you do that, you naturally point the stream away from the septum and avoid the side effects. It's a simple trick that works really well.

    • Allergic rhinitis

      Animation

    •  

      Allergic rhinitis - Animation

      For some people, spring is the most beautiful time of the year. Flowers bloom, trees green up, and warmer weather finally lets them leave their winter cocoon. Yet for others, spring is a misery of sneezing, runny eyes, and itching from all the pollen in the air. These symptoms are known as hay fever, or allergic rhinitis. You get allergic rhinitis from breathing in something you're allergic to. It could be pollen from the trees or grass, dust you stir up with your broom, or your cat's fur. The substance you're allergic to is called an allergen. If you have allergies, there's a good chance you inherited them from your parents. Allergic rhinitis is often passed down through families, especially the mother. If you have allergic rhinitis, you may sneeze and have a runny nose, teary eyes, and itchiness on your face or other parts of your body. You may also cough, have a headache, lose some of your sense of smell, and feel generally, out of it. Allergy testing can figure out what it is you're allergic to. The most common test puts a small amount of different allergens under your skin, to see if the area swells up and turns red. That's called a skin test. Or, your doctor may look for certain allergy-related substances in your blood. So, what can you do to treat your allergies? The obvious way to deal with allergies is to avoid whatever causes them. Stay indoors with the air conditioning on days when pollen counts are high, keep your house clean of dust, and give your cat to a good friend if you can't be around her without sneezing. To clear out clogged sinuses, you can use a nasal wash that you either buy at your local drugstore, or make a wash by mixing a cup of warm water with a half-teaspoon of salt and a pinch of baking powder. You can also relieve your symptoms with antihistamines like Claritin and Zyrtec, which block the chemical in your body that causes the allergic reaction. Decongestants may relieve nasal congestion, and steroid drugs bring down swelling in the nose. Your doctor may recommend allergy shots to get your body used to the substance so it doesn't make you sneeze. Don't ignore allergy symptoms and just hope they go away. Most of the time they won't. Although some people do outgrow their allergies, most of the time nasal allergies will stick with you for life. Call your doctor if your allergy symptoms are bothering you, or the treatment you're using isn't working.

    • How to use nasal sprays

      Animation

    •  

      How to use nasal sprays - Animation

      Hi. I'm Dr. Alan Greene and I would like to give you a tip for how to use nasal sprays that contain medications. This is especially useful for the steroid nasal sprays that are used to treat allergies, but also true for the ones used for a cold or other things as well. Now, the middle part of the nose between the two nostrils is called the septum and it's got cartilage in there and a lot of blood vessels where nosebleeds typically come from. And when the medication squirts straight into the septum that can cause side effects - irritation, bleeding, and other things like that. Now most of the time when people use a nasal spray what they will do is either use the same hand for both sides or use one hand for the nostril closest to you and one for the other. I'm going to suggest you do just the opposite of that. You take one hand and squirt into the other nostril. When you do that, you naturally point the stream away from the septum and avoid the side effects. It's a simple trick that works really well.

    • Allergic rhinitis

      Animation

    •  

      Allergic rhinitis - Animation

      For some people, spring is the most beautiful time of the year. Flowers bloom, trees green up, and warmer weather finally lets them leave their winter cocoon. Yet for others, spring is a misery of sneezing, runny eyes, and itching from all the pollen in the air. These symptoms are known as hay fever, or allergic rhinitis. You get allergic rhinitis from breathing in something you're allergic to. It could be pollen from the trees or grass, dust you stir up with your broom, or your cat's fur. The substance you're allergic to is called an allergen. If you have allergies, there's a good chance you inherited them from your parents. Allergic rhinitis is often passed down through families, especially the mother. If you have allergic rhinitis, you may sneeze and have a runny nose, teary eyes, and itchiness on your face or other parts of your body. You may also cough, have a headache, lose some of your sense of smell, and feel generally, out of it. Allergy testing can figure out what it is you're allergic to. The most common test puts a small amount of different allergens under your skin, to see if the area swells up and turns red. That's called a skin test. Or, your doctor may look for certain allergy-related substances in your blood. So, what can you do to treat your allergies? The obvious way to deal with allergies is to avoid whatever causes them. Stay indoors with the air conditioning on days when pollen counts are high, keep your house clean of dust, and give your cat to a good friend if you can't be around her without sneezing. To clear out clogged sinuses, you can use a nasal wash that you either buy at your local drugstore, or make a wash by mixing a cup of warm water with a half-teaspoon of salt and a pinch of baking powder. You can also relieve your symptoms with antihistamines like Claritin and Zyrtec, which block the chemical in your body that causes the allergic reaction. Decongestants may relieve nasal congestion, and steroid drugs bring down swelling in the nose. Your doctor may recommend allergy shots to get your body used to the substance so it doesn't make you sneeze. Don't ignore allergy symptoms and just hope they go away. Most of the time they won't. Although some people do outgrow their allergies, most of the time nasal allergies will stick with you for life. Call your doctor if your allergy symptoms are bothering you, or the treatment you're using isn't working.

      A Closer Look

       

      Self Care

       

      Review Date: 4/15/2018

      Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

      The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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