Allergic rhinitis (AC), or pollinosis, is a common medical condition that affects the nose. The latter name was give to it because in the majority of the cases, it is triggered during certain periods of the year because of flower pollen, but there are also other factors cause it. The first documentation of AC was traced back to the 10th century when Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyya al-Razi, a famous physician of the time described it in full detail. Pollen was identified as the most frequent cause by Charles Blackley in 1859 while a complete analysis of the mechanism of AC was given by Clemens von Pirquet 47 years later.
AC symptoms are similar to the ones of a common cold but they are limited to the nose. They include frequent sneezing, rhinorrhea and heavy nasal congestion. Some patients may develop rarer symptoms like effusion of the middle ear and swollen eyelids.
The “usual suspect” for causing allergic rhinitis has already been mentioned. It is common knowledge that pollen is present in a huge variety of different plants and trees so it is kind of impossible to avoid contact with it, especially if a person lives in the country. Certain trees like birch, alder and pine but also types of grass and weed have been proven to cause the most intense symptoms. Other substances that may cause or intensify the symptoms are mold, dust and pet hair.
A simple allergy test is the only action required to detect whether someone is suffering from AC. The test is performed by placing a few patches on the person’s skin, most of the times on the back. Besides AC, this test can detect all other types of allergies even if they do not have symptoms on the patient.
There are two prevalent types of treatment, administration of either antihistamines or steroids.
Antihistamines are taken orally and their role is to relieve the patient from the aforementioned AC symptoms. It usually takes about fifteen minutes for the medication to “kick in”.
Steroids come in the form of nasal spray. They are more popular than antihistamines since their response time is significantly lower since the spray comes in contact with the required area immediately. This form is also a lot easier to use than the pills. Most of the patients use it right before bedtime in order to improve the quality of their sleep.
Allergic rhinitis affects a relatively large percentage of the global population. Recent studies in western countries have shown that, in some regions, a percentage of people as high as 30% is affected for some part of every year.