Monday, March 22, 2010

A-a-a-choo! Springtime allergies

Warmer weather brings trees and flowers. And allergies.

How do I know if I have nasal allergies?

Common allergy symptoms (otherwise known as allergic rhinitis) are sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, nasal congestion. You can also have redness of the eyes and sometimes wheezing and cough. The cough is usually caused by a post nasal drip so it is much worse when laying flat. Some people can have sore throat and hoarseness.

People who have asthma are much more likely to get allergies but anyone can get allergies. Symptoms can wax and wane over time.

The symptoms are caused by inflammatory reaction to airborn allergen particles. Common causes of allergens can be trees, grasses, pollen, cats, dogs and mold spores. Some people can have seasonal allergy symptoms (most commonly in the spring) and others will have symptoms year round.

How is allergic rhinitis diagnosed?

The diagnosis can be made based on the symptoms and the physical exam. Some patients may be referred to an allergist who can do testing to determine the specific allergens. This can be helpful in severe cases where avoidance of the allergen is important.

Allergy symptoms:

These are the dark circles often found under the eyes of a patient with allergies. They are often referred to as allergic shiners.

Tomorrow- how to treat allergic rhinitis!

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