Allergic rhinitis is a group of symptoms that affect your nose. They occur when you breathe in something you are allergic to, such as dust, animal dander, insect venom, or pollen.
Allergic rhinitis is called hay fever when it is caused by plant pollen and other outdoor particles.
Things that make allergies worse are called triggers. It may be impossible to completely avoid all triggers, but you can do many things to limit your or your child’s exposure to them:
Some changes you may need to make:
The amount of pollen in the air can affect whether hay fever symptoms develop. More pollen is in the air on hot, dry, windy days. On cool, damp, rainy days, most pollen is washed to the ground.
Antihistamines are medicines that work well for treating allergy symptoms. They are often used when symptoms do not occur very often or do not last very long.
Antihistamine nasal sprays work well for treating allergic rhinitis. You may want to try them first, before taking a pill.
Decongestants are drugs that dry up your nasal passages. They may help dry up a runny or stuffy nose. They come as pills, liquids, capsules, or nasal sprays. You can buy them without a prescription.
For mild allergic rhinitis, a nasal wash can help remove mucus from your nose. You can buy a saline spray at a drugstore or make one at home. To make one, use 1 cup of warm water, 1/2 a teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of baking soda.
Make an appointment with your health care provider if:
Hay fever - self-care; Seasonal rhinitis - self-care
Wallace DV, Dykewicz MS, Bernstein DI, Blessing-Moore J, Cox L, Khan DA, et al. The diagnosis and management of rhinitis: an updated practice parameter. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008 Aug:122(2).
Greiner AN, Hellings PW, Rotiroti G, Scadding GK. Allergic rhinitis. Lancet. 2011 Dec 17;378(9809):2112-22. Epub 2011 Jul 23.
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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