Avoid the causes of allergic rhinitis where possible. Avoidance is the most effective way to manage allergies.
Tips for Avoiding Airborne Allergens
- If you are allergic to airborne pollens and molds, use air conditioning in your home, your car, and at work.
- Keeping doors and windows closed also is an effective way to keep out airborne pollens and molds.
- Dry your laundry inside during pollination times.
- Clean up areas of obvious mold growth. Consider a dehumidifier for damp basements.
- If you have seasonal allergic rhinitis, it may help to leave the geographic area during the allergy season. For example, if you are allergic to ragweed, consider going to places such as the Rocky Mountains or northern Minnesota during the ragweed season.
Tips for Avoiding Pet Allergens
- If you are allergic to pets, removing them from your home and cleaning the house thoroughly may give complete relief of symptoms.
- If you decide to keep your furry pets, bathe them weekly. After washing your cat once a week for several weeks, you may reduce the amount of its allergen that floats in the air (airborne allergen).
- A special filter such as a HEPA filter can reduce the dander level in the air.
- Keep your pets outside as much as possible.
- Do not let them on your bed or even in your bedroom. Also, keep them out of other rooms in which you spend a lot of time.
- If you are allergic to animals, do not buy furniture or rugs that are made with animal hair.
- For dust mite allergy, encase the mattresses and pillows in allergy control barriers, wash the blankets and sheets weekly, and keep the humidity down.
- Have the bedroom out of the basement and have smooth floors where possible.
- If you are allergic to cockroaches, use a roach control method to rid your home of these pests.
Tips for Avoiding Irritants
- If you have any type of rhinitis, try to avoid things that irritate your nose and lungs, such as dust, smoke and temperature change.
- Don’t smoke.
- Avoid frequent nasal sniffing or blowing, and throat clearing. These actions can be irritating and can cause sensitive nasal and throat membranes to secrete more mucus.
Use the medication prescribed by your allergist at Dakota Allergy & Asthma. Medications for allergic and non-allergic rhinitis we may prescribe to you fall into these categories:
These lessen symptoms of an itchy, sneezy and runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes.
The non-sedating forms are preferred and include Allegra™, Clarinex™, and Claritin™.
Patanase, AstePro, Zyrtec, Astelin, and Xyzal.
Sedating antihistamines are commonly sold over-the-counter and include Benadryl® and chlorpheniramine. All can be used on an as-needed basis as they start working in 30 to 60 minutes. Antihistamine eye drops are also available such as Patanol® and Vasocon®.
Decongestants work by shrinking (decongesting) swollen nasal membranes. Various forms of pseudephedrine (such as Sudafed®) are the main products available. They are stimulant drugs and may aggravate high blood pressure. On rare occasions, decongestants may cause your heart to beat differently. Decongestants can cause difficulty with urination, however, this occurs most often in older men.
Avoid nasal decongestant sprays. Although these medications offer temporary relief, they can result in chronic obstruction of the nasal passage. They shrink the nasal mucous membranes briefly, and when the effect of the medication ends, the membranes once again swell. This swelling becomes greater with repeated use, and finally the nose becomes severely obstructed.
Many allergy medications contain both antihistamines and decongestants. Asthmatics can use antihistamines and decongestants for their nasal symptoms. These medications do not help the asthma symptoms.
Allergy Blocking Medications
Allergy blocking medications inhibit the body’s mast cells from releasing histamine and other mediators that cause your allergic symptoms. Cromolyn (Nasalcrom™) is available as a nasal spray or eye drop (Crolom™) that can relieve allergy symptoms. Lodoxamine (Alomide™) is another eye drop. Both are preventive types of medication and to be most effective, they should be started before the beginning of the allergy season. In some people, they cause stinging or burning.
These are effective in treating both allergic and non-allergic rhinitis (and nasal polyps) and can be given by injection, pill or spray.
When used in pill form or by injection, cortisone may have serious side effects, particularly when used over long periods of time. The allergists at Dakota Allergy & Asthma always use their expertise to carefully weigh the side effects of cortisone-containing drugs against the seriousness of the allergic symptoms.
Corticosteroid nasal sprays include:
- Beclomethasone (Qnasl™, Beconase AQ™, or Vancenase AQ™)
- Budesonide (Rhinocort Aqua™)
- Flunisolide (Nasalide™, Nasarel™)
- Fluticasone (Flonase™)
- Mometasone (Nasonex™)
- Triamcinolone (Nasacort AQ™)
- Ciclesonide (Omnaris™, Zetonna™)
These nasal sprays usually do not cause the same serious side effects as the pills or injections. However, they can irritate the nose and cause stinging, burning, and minor nosebleeds. A small percentage of patients must stop the medication because of nosebleeds. The allergists at Dakota Allergy & Asthma generally recommend you start taking them before your allergy season, if they are taken regularly.
Eye drops help with the itchy, watery eyes symptoms of your allergy. They can be antihistamines, decongestants, allergy-blocking agents, or anti-inflammatory agents. Be sure to tell us if you wear contact lenses, as many eye drops cannot be used with them.
Allergy immunotherapy is also called desensitization, hyposensitization or allergy shots. It is a form of treatment that can make you less sensitive to allergens. It is helpful for allergic rhinitis, especially for allergies to trees, grasses, weeds, cats, and dust mites. It can also help with mold or dog allergies. It is generally not helpful for non-allergic rhinitis or nasal polyps.
If you receive allergy immunotherapy, it generally means you will come to our offices and receive regular injections of the allergen(s) to which you are allergic. The injections start with a small dose once or twice weekly and gradually increase to the maximum dose determined by your Dakota Allergy & Asthma allergist. Then the injections are extended gradually to monthly doses and continue year-round.
While it is uncommon, you can have an allergic reaction to the allergy immunotherapy injections. Life-threatening reactions and deaths have occurred, but are extremely rare. We ask that you wait in your allergist’s office for 30 minutes following an injection so that if a reaction occurs, it can be properly treated.
After five years, if these injections provide relief from allergy symptoms, we may consider stopping your injections—most patients continue to enjoy relief for years after stopping the injections. If no benefit is seen after a year, a re-evaluation of this therapy is suggested.
Surgery is not generally helpful for allergic and non-allergic rhinitis. However, it may help in some situations where another condition arises with allergic rhinitis. We will work with you to determine whether or not surgery might help you.
Surgery can often improve nasal breathing in people whose internal nose structures block air passage, such as a deviated nasal septum. Turbinate reduction procedures can reduce nasal congestion. Nasal polyps may need surgical treatment if they cause severe nasal obstruction, repeated sinus infections or erosion of the bone. Unfortunately, nasal polyps tend to return and may require additional surgery. Long term cortisone nasal sprays are often recommended to help reduce the regrowth of the polyps. Other procedures can, at times, help with chronic sinusitis.