Are allergies just a problem with the nose?

If you answered “No,” then you probably have allergies or know someone who does. Allergic rhinitis has been designated the “Rodney Dangerfield” of medical diagnoses…it gets NO RESPECT! Many people (including health insurance companies) feel it is just a nuisance that can be treated with tissues and Over-the-Counter (OTC) antihistamines. Allergies affect the quality of life of many people and up to 30% of the population is affected.

Allergic rhinitis has been linked to many other diagnoses/issues:

  • Asthma: nearly 1/3 of patients with allergic rhinitis have asthma and over 60% of patients with asthma have allergies.

  • Eye symptoms: many persons have allergic conjunctivitis with itchy, red, swollen, watery eyes. Frequently, these symptoms can be more annoying than the nasal symptoms!

  • Ear symptoms: Otitis media (ear infections), serous otitis (fluid behind the ear drums), and eustachian tube dysfunction (that plugged up feeling in the ears) can all be associated with allergies. The inflammation of the nose impacts on the function of the eustachian tube.

  • Food allergy: pollen proteins cross react with fresh fruits, vegetables or nuts and cause itching in the mouth, throat known as Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome (formerly called Oral Allergy Syndrome).

  • Sinus problems: When the inflammation from allergies leads to swelling and copious mucus in the nose, this can lead to problems with sinus drainage and development of a sinus infection from bacteria (now called rhinosinusitis).

  • Sleep-Disordered breathing: this means difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and/or achieving a deep, regenerative sleep. Nasal congestion leading to snoring, periodic arousals from sleep and even sleep apnea may contribute. Sleep deprivation is miserable!

  • Dental and facial abnormalities: Chronic mouth breathing due to nasal congestion can lead to changes in the dental and facial bone structure in children. This can lead to “adenoid facies.”

Goals for allergic rhinitis control:

  • Minimal or no symptoms

  • Rare need for antihistamines

  • No symptom progression

  • Minimal or no side effects from medication

  • High sleep quality

  • Good nasal air flow and sense of smell

  • High daily performance (school or work)

  • Other conditions controlled: asthma, eye symptoms, ear and sinus infections

  • Good overall quality of life

At Family Allergy Asthma & Sinus Care, if your allergies are affecting your quality of life and you are not meeting the goals for control of allergies, call us at 704-817-2022. Let us take care of you!