Rhinitis simply means an inflammation of the nose. The nasal passage becomes swollen causing sneezing and itchiness of the nose and eyes. Normally allergic rhinitis is caused by an inhaled allergen, pollen, dust mite or pet allergen, mould spores or airborne contaminants. It can also be caused by a food allergy. Almost anyone can develop allergic rhinitis. "Allergic rhinitis is very common. Some 10 per cent of children and 30 per cent of adolescents are affected. However, it is also possible to develop the condition in early infancy or at any stage in adulthood, including old age."
"There is nothing half hearted about the inflammation of allergic rhinitis. The normally neat and tidy lining of the nose becomes packed with cells migrating in from the bloodstream. These are immune cells, and they have been summoned to the site by an "allergic call". Special cells in the nose, called mast cells, have burst because they have been touched by something they are allergic to. When they burst, their contents (highly active chemicals) spill out into the surrounding tissues. This is the first step in the "allergic cascade". These chemicals are responsible for the first symptoms of allergy: namely, itch, sneezing and a runny nose. They are also the "SOS" by which other cells are called to battle. As these cells crowd into the narrow spaces of the nasal cavity, they cause obstruction. Thus obstruction is a later symptom of the allergy."
The nose can feel blocked and blowing will not relieve this feeling. "Blocked passages can lead to headaches, disturbed sleep and puffiness around the eyes. Another characteristic sign of rhinitis are so-called "allergy shiners", big black rings under the eyes where the nasal passages are chronically inflamed." The mucus produced within the nose can also affect the ears, sinuses and airways. One condition called "Post-nasal drip" results from the mucus running down the nasal passages and into the throat and airways while the sufferer is asleep. This can cause asthma like symptoms.
Dr Joe Fitzgibbon says that there are two connections between rhinitis and asthma: "In the first place, there is a nervous connection between the nose/sinuses and the bronchial tubes. Irritation of the former may spark off an asthmatic reaction in the latter. Secondly, untreated allergic rhinitis results in the inspiration of poor quality air. With the nose blocked, air is taken in through the mouth, and thus escapes the normal conditioning that would occur in the healthy nose. The air reaching the lungs is therefore relatively dry. It is also polluted with microscopic particles of dust and other allergens. This is not good for asthma."
We offer a variety of products which can help with rhinitis and asthma.
One of the main symptoms of dust mite allergy is a runny nose, sneezing and being stuffed up. Dust mite allergy is relatively easy to control with dust mite proof barrier cases, dust mite proof duvets and dust mite proof pillows, allergy sprays and keeping the relative humidity low with the use of a dehumidifier. Another excellent machine for both dust mite allergy and mould is the Airfree air steriliser.
Another name for hay fever is seasonal allergic rhinitis caused by different pollens at various times of the year. We offer a selection of products to help combat the symptoms of hay fever. If you know which pollens you react to it is a good idea to consider eliminating the possibility of cross reactions with foods. Different pollens relate to different foods and cause a cross reaction between them so, for example, if you react to grass pollen you may react to figs, melons, tomatoes and oranges. During the grass pollen season if you remove these foods from your diet you may find that your symptoms are significantly reduced.
Since rhinitis really just means an inflammation of the nose and perennial means that it occurs all year any allergen that is found in the air all year can cause perrenial allergic rhinitis. If you suffer from pet allergy this can cause the symptoms of rhinitis for as long as you are exposed to the pet allergen. Useful products for pet allergy an air purifier, PetalCleanse to remove the allergen from your pet's coat, and the HomeCare range for neutralising the allergens in the air, on furnishings and in the washing.
Since mould spores are found both in the home and outside, these can cause symptoms all year. Although mould allergy can cause a wide variety of symptoms even including depression, perhaps the most common symptoms are nasal and respiratory. We offer a wider variety of products that can help combat mould allergy.
It is particularly important to find out what is provoking rhinitis in children with serous otitis media (glue ear), and those who are not hearing very well. In most children, if you prevent the rhinitis, the glue ear will clear without needing grommets. If foods are responsible, the most likely are milk, wheat, and eggs.
Usually the first things to try are effective precautions against the house dust mite, pollen, moulds and animal dander. However reactions to foods may contribute, and may be the main cause, in which case avoidance will often help alleviate the symptoms.
Information included in this website is intended for information purposes only and is not to be used as a substitute for consultation with a medical practitioner.
Could it be an allergy? Dr Joe Fitzgibbon, Newleaf 1998 p53 p59
The Allergy Survival Guide, Jane Houlton, Vermillion 1994 p46
Environmental Medicine in Clinical Practice, Anthony, Birtwistle, Eaton and Maberly p281