Also known as: allergic rhinitis, hay fever.

What is rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis usually presents in early childhood as an inflammatory reaction in the eyes, nose and throat caused by the body’s response to an allergen (an irritant like tree, grass or weed pollen, pet dander, dust mites, mold, cockroach waste, and others).

Allergic rhinitis may be seasonal or may occur all year long (perennial).

What causes rhinitis?

Substances known as allergens cause part of the body’s immune system (IgE) to trigger the release of histamine from cells. Histamine causes the inflammatory swelling, itching, and fluid production in the nose, sinuses, and eyelids.

What are the symptoms of rhinitis?

Common symptoms include:

  • congestion
  • sneezing
  • runny nose
  • itching of the nose, throat, eyes, mouth and ears
Children with perennial rhinitis may in addition, present with recurrent ear infections, breathing through the mouth, snoring, and the “allergic salute” which is rubbing of the itchy nose upwards causing a crease to form across the bridge of the nose.

What are rhinitis care options?

Avoiding the substance(s) causing the problem is the best first step. Antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroids, or allergy shots (desensitization or immunotherapy), and/or other drugs are of value in managing the condition.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: May 12, 2021 09:43 AM

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