Allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction that happens when your immune system overreacts to substances that you inhale, such as pollen.

The two types of allergic rhinitis are:

Hay fever is caused by outdoor allergens. Perennial allergic rhinitis is caused by indoor allergens, such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold.

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis are similar to cold symptoms. But they are not caused by a virus the way a cold is. When you breathe in an allergen, your immune system springs into action. It releases substances known as IgEs into your nasal passages, along with inflammatory chemicals, such as histamines. Your eyes may itch or your nose and sinuses may become itchy and congested. Scientists are not sure what causes your immune system to overreact to allergens.

Allergic rhinitis is common, affecting about 1 in 5 Americans. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is more common in children and adolescents. Most people with allergic rhinitis have symptoms before age 20. Symptoms stay constant through early adulthood, but begin to improve during middle age and beyond. Symptoms can be mild or severe. Many people who have allergic rhinitis also have asthma.

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Review Date: 8/22/2015  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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