Allergic rhinitis: it may not be a phrase you hear often, but it is a condition that affections millions of people. You likely know the condition of rhinitis by its common name, which is Hay Fever. Hay fever can be either caused by allergies (Allergic Rhinitis) or not caused by allergies (Non Allergic Rhinitis). It is estimated that over 17 million adults in the US have hay fever, and these symptoms are usually caused by allergies. However, it is also estimated that about 1/3 of the adults with hay fever do not seem to have allergies that trigger these symptoms.
Understanding Hay Fever
Hay fever caused by allergies is related to an over-reaction by your immune system. What happens to someone with allergic rhinitis is that their body senses a harmless substance like pollen, and instead treats it as a danger. To protect the body from this ‘danger,’ the immune system releases a substance called histamine. Histamine is the cause of the tell-tale signs of hay fever like a runny nose, irritated throat, itchy or watery eyes, sneezing, congestion, or itching on the roof on the mouth.
Who Gets Hay Fever?
While anyone can get hay fever, there are some risk factors that have been identified.
There is a genetic component, so we know that you are more likely to suffer from hay fever if you have a close relative who has allergies or asthma.
There also seems to be a correlation in increased hay fever in people whose mother smoked when they were an infant.
People with other allergies or asthma are more likely to have hay fever.
Those with the skin condition eczema are more likely to develop hay fever.
There are lifestyle risks like living or working in a place that exposes you to lots of allergens.
A new study is furthering our understanding of who gets hay fever. Scientists looked at the genes of almost 900,000 people to analyze genes that may be tied to rhinitis. In comparing the genes of people with rhinitis to those without it, the researchers were able to identify 62 genes that appear to be connected to this frustrating medical condition. While we are unable to control the genes we inherit, there is hope that research like this will open the door to a greater understanding of not only what genes may lead to rhinitis, but how the environment interacts with these genes, and how we may be able to help reduce the symptoms of rhinitis.
Treatment for Rhinitis
For people who suffer from rhinitis, these symptoms can have a significant effect on their quality of life. People with rhinitis may find that they do not sleep well, are tired during the day, have trouble enjoying outdoor activities, are not able to breathe well, have reduced productivity, and may have to skip work or school due to symptoms. Fortunately, there are some treatments available that can greatly improve the quality of life for some with rhinitis.
To find out what type of treatments are available that may help alleviate your hay fever, set up a consultation with one of our ear, nose, and throat physicians. They will be able to diagnose your condition and help you understand your full range of treatment options. You can reach us at (855) 690-0565.