The following content is sponsored by Cooper University Health Care and written by Nathan A. Deckard, MD. Director, Rhinology, ENT Allergy and Skull-Based Surgery, Division of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (ENT).
For the one in six Americans with allergic rhinitis, it is more than just a prolonged cold; it is a chronic disease that needs proper medical management. Allergic rhinitis occurs when an individual inhales something they are allergic to, like pet dander or pollen, and then the inside lining of the nose becomes inflamed, resulting in congestion, runny nose, sneezing and/or itching. Allergic rhinitis has a major impact in the quality of life for a large portion of the U.S. population and is one of the most commonly diagnosed illnesses. It also leads to an estimated $2-to-$5 billion in expenditures each year as well as being responsible for as much as $2-to-$4 billion in lost productivity annually.
To help address quality improvement opportunities for clinicians who are likely to manage allergic rhinitis, new treatment guidelines were released on February 2, 2015, by the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF). These guidelines are the work of a multidisciplinary panel of experts in otolaryngology, allergy and immunology, internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, sleep medicine, advanced pediatric nursing and complementary and integrative medicine.
The committee’s strongest recommendations are for topical steroids and oral antihistamines to be used as a first-line of defense. What this means is the combination of medications like Claritin, Zyrtec or Allegra with an intranasal spray like Flonase or Nasacort should be used every day for the duration of the allergy season. It is important that individuals follow the instructions given by their physician for optimal results. Another key recommendation, for patients with a stuffy nose, nasal passage discoloration, and/or red and watery eyes is that doctors should forgo sinus imaging process in favor of specific allergy screening tests.
A good rule of thumb is to remember to take care of environmental triggers that can wreak havoc on an individual with allergic rhinitis. In the home, efforts should be made to control or exterminate dust mites, install air filter systems and use bedding with allergen-barriers.
In conclusion if you find that over –the- counter medications and home remedies are not working, please seek the advice your family physician or a physician who specializes in the treatment of allergic rhinitis such as an ENT specialist (Otolaryngologist).
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