Is my condition severe?
How to treat allergic rhinitis
Dr Lai Kwong Lun Nelson
Specialist in Otorhinolaryngology
Is my allergic rhinitis severe?
According to the standards of the WHO, allergic rhinitis can be classified as either “intermittent” or “persistent”. If a patient suffers from symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose or nasal congestion for more than 4 days a week for more than 4 consecutive weeks, it is classified as ‘Persistent Allergic Rhinitis’. If the condition affects the patient’s daily life (study, work, sleep, etc.), it will be defined as moderate to severe allergic rhinitis. Since allergic rhinitis generally affects breathing, sleep will be naturally disturbed during allergic episodes. The quality of sleep decreases, and the patient becomes lethargic during the day. Over time, it will trigger a vicious cycle affecting not just the daily life but most importantly, physical health.
Three ways to treat allergic rhinitis:
(1) Avoid Exposure to Allergens
The most common allergen in daily life is the dust mite. Dust mites are small insects that can latch on to mattresses, pillows and quilts on our beds. Regular vacuuming throughout the home and the use of anti-dust mite bedding can reduce the presence of dust mites. Also, it is essential to wash bed sheets weekly at temperatures of above 60°C or above. Washing decreases the number of dust mites, hence further reducing the exposure to allergens.
(2) Drug Therapy
Medicinal treatments for allergic rhinitis mainly consist of oral anti-allergy medication and nasal steroid sprays. Most oral anti-allergy drugs from the past often caused drowsiness, affecting the functioning of daily activities. Although nasal sprays are steroid treatments, the medication will remain within the nasal cavity, so it has minimal side effects on the body. Sprays can be regarded as a safe treatment option. However, prolonged use is required to control allergic rhinitis effectively.
(3) Salt Water Nasal Cavity Cleansing
Using saline to rinse the nasal cavity not only removes nasal secretions but also rids the allergens from the cavity, so allergic rhinitis symptoms can improve. However, it should be noted that saline must be used when rinsing the nasal cavity. Do not use tap water, as it may contain bacteria which increases the chance of an infection (such as ear infections).