Allergic rhinitis is inflammation of the inside of thenose caused by an allergen, such as pollen, dust,mould,or flakes of skin from certain animals .

It's a very common condition, estimated to affect around one in every five people in the UK.

Signs and symptoms

Allergic rhinitistypicallycauses cold-like symptoms , such as sneezing, itchiness and a blocked or runny nose. These symptoms usuallystart soon after beingexposed to an allergen.

Some people onlyget allergic rhinitisfor a few months at a time because they're sensitive to seasonal allergens, such astree or grass pollen. Other people get allergic rhinitis all year round.

Most people with allergic rhinitis have mild symptoms that can be easily and effectively treated. But for some symptoms can be severe and persistent, causing sleep problems and interfering with everyday life.

The symptoms of allergic rhinitis occasionally improve with time, but this can take many years andit's unlikely that the condition will disappear completely.

When to see your GP

Visit your GP if the symptoms of allergic rhinitis are disrupting your sleep, preventing you carrying out everyday activities, or adversely affecting your performance at work or school.

A diagnosis of allergic rhinitis will usually be based on your symptoms and any possible triggers you may have noticed. If the cause of your condition is uncertain, you may be referred for allergy testing .

This will help improve your symptoms.

Ifyour condition is mild, you can also help reduce the symptoms by taking over-the-counter medications, such as non-sedating Antihistamines , and by regularly rinsing your nasal passages with a salt water solution to keep your nose free of irritants.

See your GP for advice if you've tried takingthese steps and they haven't helped. They may prescribe a stronger medication, such as a nasal spray containing corticosteroids .

These include:

  • nasal polyps abnormal but non-cancerous (benign) sacs of fluid that grow inside the nasal passages and sinuses
  • sinusitis an infection caused by nasal inflammation and swelling that prevents mucus draining from the sinuses
  • middle ear infections infection of part of the ear located directly behind the eardrum

These problems can often be treated with medication, although surgery is sometimes needed in severe or long-term cases.


Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016