Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis can be treated in different ways. Although therapy is always personalized, here are some of the available alternatives.
Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis

Written by Josberth Johan Benitez Colmenares, 21 August, 2021

Last update: 21 August, 2021

Rhinitis is a condition in which inflammation and irritation occur in the lining of the nose. It can be triggered by many factors, although exposure to allergens such as pollen or dust is the most common cause. Also known as hay fever, studies show that it affects between 10% and 20% of the population. Knowing the correct treatment of allergic rhinitis is key for those who suffer from recurrent episodes.

What’s the best treatment for allergic rhinitis?

The treatment for allergic rhinitis means considering many factors. Triggers, prevalence, the severity of symptoms, and age are just some of the elements that determine therapy. Most patients can cope very well with the condition, although, in other cases, the intervention of an allergy professional is necessary.

If you suffer from recurring exacerbations, you should consult with one of these to determine the exact triggers and thus choose an appropriate plan to counteract them. The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) highlights the following treatment options.

Antihistamines

Treatment of allergic rhinitis includes antihistamines
Anti-allergy drugs are first-line therapy, although people with recurrent allergic rhinitis may see little clinical improvement with repeated use.

Antihistamine therapy is often the first option when treating allergic rhinitis. It’s divided into two types: first and second generation.

Given that the drugs in the first case are accompanied by a powerful sedative effect (affecting psychomotor performance), researchers recommend second-generation drugs in some contexts. Among these we can highlight the following:

  • Alavert (loratadine)
  • Clarinex (desloratadine)
  • Allegra (fexofenadine)
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine)

Antihistamines work by blocking the effects of histamine. This is a substance that the body secretes when there’s an allergic reaction. This produces some of the classic symptoms (runny nose and sneezing, for example).

They’re an affordable and effective therapy, although they should be administered with caution due to the possible sedative effect. You can buy them in different forms, such as tablets, syrups, intranasal sprays, and eye drops.

Intranasal corticosteroids

These are especially useful for treating inflammation, although they must be used regularly (as is the case, for example, with some asthma medications). Studies support their use over antihistamines because they’re free of sedative effects, although it isn’t uncommon for patients to have to resort to both in severe cases.

Not all intranasal corticosteroids have the same potency, so if it’s too high they can cause nasal irritation or bleeding. To prevent this, you just need to choose the right product, as well as to use it in the correct way to perceive its benefits. We highlight the following:

  • Beconase AQ (beclomethasone)
  • Flonase (fluticasone)
  • Nasarel (flunisolide)
  • Rhinocort Aqua (budesonide)

If you have any side effects, then suspend its use and ask your specialist or pharmacist which brand or dose you should use according to your allergy episodes.

Combination drugs

Some patients only perceive improvements with the help of combined drugs. These integrate the active ingredients of antihistamines and corticosteroids in a single point.

Studies recommend the use of this combination therapy, although only when the previous ones haven’t worked. Consult with the specialist in case you think you require this rhinitis treatment.

Decongestant sprays

Decongestant sprays are considered a short-term therapy, often only for those with occasional rhinitis.

This is because its long-term use has been associated with several side effects. Among them, we can highlight hypertension, tachycardia, headaches, insomnia and nervousness. For this reason, they should be used with caution in people suffering from these types of conditions.

If they’re used only occasionally they’re very useful to unblock the nose. Most products of this type use a combination of two or more compounds, so the label should be checked if you’re taking medication for other conditions or illnesses

Decongestant tablets

These work in the same way as the previous ones, only this time the treatment is oral. Researchers agree that treatment with these tablets should be for more than five days, as the patient is at risk of developing drug rhinitis or recurrent congestion.

They can also cause the same sequelae as their aerosol equivalent, and so they shouldn’t be used by hypertensive people and those with heart conditions.

Immunotherapy as a treatment for allergic rhinitis

Treatment of allergic rhinitis includes injections
Immunotherapy is a relatively recent therapeutic option, with beneficial results in certain very specific groups.

The above options are the first line of defense against allergic rhinitis. However, some patients may opt for immunotherapy sessions to control the symptoms and the frequency with which the episodes occur.

Researchers endorse its use in patients older than five years of age who haven’t responded to previous therapies. Among its characteristics we can mention the following:

  • It can be applied subcutaneously or sublingually
  • Its effects are maintained for several years after stopping treatment
  • In general, it consists of sessions that last between three and five years (depending on each case)
  • They’re based on the administration of an allergen to reduce the sensitivity of the patient (sometimes two or more can be used).
  • They require vigilance after application in order to control allergic reactions.

Considering its long-term effects, immunotherapy may be a more effective option than conventional treatment, especially for those who have to deal with recurring episodes. Not all patients qualify for it; consult with your specialist about the possibility of starting a program of this type.

Other forms of treatment for allergic rhinitis

In addition to combating episodes when they’ve already developed, another way to treat allergic rhinitis is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. According to the American College or Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, here are some positive habits:

  • Keep your home windows closed in cold seasons
  • Use air conditioning at home and in the car at more troublesome times of the year
  • Wear sunglasses when you’re out and about to keep allergens out
  • Purchase mite-proof bed covers. Also, change the blanket and sheets on a recurring basis.
  • Avoid the accumulation of dust in the home.
  • Wash your hands often, especially after petting an animal.
  • Identify the habits that trigger exacerbations to avoid them.

These are some of the general guidelines that you should include in your routine. These vary according to the specific trigger(s) for your allergy. If you can’t keep it under control based on some of the recommended rhinitis treatments, don’t hesitate to consult with a specialist to explore more personalized options.

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