Health Impact of Nasal Allergies

Health Impact of Nasal Allergies

Nasal allergy, or allergic rhinitis, is the 6th most common chronic disease in the Unites States. It leads to millions of lost work and school days and billions of lost healthcare dollars each year.

Whether you have seasonal allergies or year-round symptoms, the health effects can significantly impair your sleep, work, cognition and quality of life. No wonder, considering the ongoing aggravations: congestion, heavy mucus drainage and swollen nasal cavity, leading to itchy nose, eyes and ears, as well as causing drowsiness, headache, earache and other discomforts.

Allergic rhinitis also triggers medical complications, including acute or chronic sinusitis, sleep apnea and ear problems. Many people with these allergies also suffer asthma and shortness of breath; the same airborne irritants that cause a nasal allergic reaction can also trigger asthma attacks.

Some people have symptoms throughout life, and some outgrow them, while others develop them as they age. But once a substance, such as pollen, causes allergies, it often continues to produce long-term effects.

First line of defense: Identify and avoid your allergy triggers. Work closely with your healthcare provider to determine the best prevention and treatment plan. Discuss prescription medications and their side effects. Over-the-counter steroid nasal sprays control inflammation and significantly reduce most symptoms. Antihistamines in liquids, pills or nasal sprays block histamine and ease some symptoms.

To help you better manage your nasal allergies here are 5 Nasal Allergy Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore from WebMD:

1. Runny or Stuffy Nose

A runny or stuffy nose is one of the most common symptoms. “The best way to treat congestion is to treat the allergy that’s causing it,” says Marshall Plaut, MD, chief of allergic mechanisms at the Asthma, Allergy and Inflammation branch of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

2. Sinus Pressure

Your sinuses are small cavities behind your forehead, cheeks, and eyes. If mucus builds up in these areas because of allergies, you may feel pressure or pain.

You can help reduce sinus congestion by applying a moist, warm cloth to your face or inhaling steam a few times each day. You can also try using a saline nasal spray. If you feel sinus pain and pressure for more than a week, call your doctor.

3. Sneezing

If you’ve ever had a bout of uncontrollable sneezing, you know what a nuisance it can be. Some people have such severe sneezing episodes that they interfere with their daily life. But sneezing doesn’t have to be that serious to seek relief.

If you can’t avoid the allergen that’s causing the sneezing, or if doing so doesn’t help, try an over-the-counter antihistamine. Be sure to read and follow the directions on the label for any over-the-counter medicine. If that doesn’t help, your doctor may prescribe a nasal steroid spray.

4. Itchy Eyes

Itchy or watery eyes are a common allergy symptom. Although they can be annoying, eye symptoms don’t usually cause serious eye or vision problems.

Again, avoiding the triggers that cause your allergies is the best way to help prevent itchy eyes. To soothe your eyes, try placing a cold washcloth over them or use artificial tears. Over-the-counter or prescription allergy medications or eyedrops that contain an antihistamine can also help relieve symptoms.

5. Postnasal Drip

Normally, you swallow mucus without even knowing it. But if your mucus becomes thick, or if you have more mucus than normal, it results in postnasal drip. That’s when you can feel mucus dripping from the back of your nose into your throat. Postnasal drip can also feel like a lump in your throat and can lead to pain or irritation there.

In addition to avoiding your allergy triggers, try drinking extra fluids or using saline nasal spray to thin the mucus. Ask your doctor about other ways to get relief.

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