Allergic Rhinitis is an allergic reaction that causes sneezing, congestion, and runny nose. It affects up to 13.1% of the Singaporean population and is commonly triggered by allergens like dust mites, pollen, pet dander, mould and insects.
Common symptoms of allergic rhinitis include:
Allergic rhinitis can be triggered by indoor and outdoor allergens. This includes dust mites, animal dander, mould and pollen. When these allergens enter the body via nasal passages, the immune system would treat them as foreign substances, prompting a chemical reaction within the body. The large release of chemicals in the body can result in inflammation, hence leading to allergic rhinitis symptoms.
During a visit to an ENT specialist clinic, the doctors will examine your medical history and evaluate you for other conditions like asthma and infections. A physical examination of your nose may be done to check for nasal polyps, evidence of infection or structural problems like a deviated nasal septum. Nasal polyps are grape-like protrusions in the nose. While some may be true growths, the majority are swollen lining of the nose which get pulled into the nasal cavity because of air flow.
To determine what type of allergens are causing your symptoms, the ENT doctor may recommend having a skin prick test or blood test.
Skin prick test: A small sample of the allergen is dropped onto your skin (usually on the forearm). Following that, the surface of the skin gets pricked with a sterile needle to introduce the allergen into the body and your immune system. If you are allergic to a particular allergen, you may start to develop small, red and itchy welts that show an allergic reaction. This common test is a safe and accurate way to test for allergens, with minimal discomfort and is well tolerated even by young children.
Blood test: This test is done to check for the immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody in your blood. During an allergic reaction, your body’s immune system would produce the IgE antibody in response to the allergen. Presence of IgE to a specific allergen suggests allergy to that substance..
Depending on the severity of your condition, ENT doctors may recommend different allergic rhinitis treatment plans.
To relieve symptoms like itchy, runny nose and sneezing, the doctor may prescribe non-drowsy antihistamines. Combined with a decongestant, they can help give additional relief to blocked noses as well.
For more persistent symptoms, the doctor will start you on regular nasal steroids. These help to stabilise the condition in your nose. They take time to work and need to be used regularly. Contrary to popular belief, they are safe for long term use because of very low absorption into the body. Patients will need to work on allergen avoidance before stopping nasal steroids
If symptoms recur after stopping nasal sprays, doctors may recommend patients undergo immunotherapy to help the body learn to tolerate the allergens. This is done by introducing small amounts of the allergen into the body multiple times in increasing doses. Over time, the immune system develops an immunity to the allergen and eventually stops reacting to it. This used to be by injections, also known as allergy shots over 3 years. The good news is that immunotherapy can now be done through drops or tablets placed under the tongue.
At Amandela, we provide subspecialty care that you can trust and rely on throughout your recovery journey. Talk to our leading ENT doctors to get expert advice for nasal conditions and treatment plans today.
Amandela ENT Head & Neck Center
Mount Elizabeth Novena
38 Irrawaddy Road #10-45/47
T: 6694 1990
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