Everything You Should Know About Allergic Rhinitis

What is allergic rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever is the inflammation of the mucous membranes in the nose, eyes and throat. It occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to allergens present in the air. Everyday substances like house dust can easily trigger these allergic symptoms in Singapore. The discomfort caused by allergic rhinitis can significantly disrupt daily life and have a negative impact on sleep quality. Discover effective strategies to manage and alleviate your allergic rhinitis symptoms in Singapore with our expert tips and recommendations.

It is an inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes and throat. The inflammation is mediated by IgE, which indicates it is an allergic reaction. 

It is commonly incited by exposure to environmental allergens. Common environmental allergens include:

  • House dust mites
  • Pet dander
  • Molds and plants
  • Cockroach 

What are the symptoms of allergic rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis can present with several symptoms. The common symptoms of allergic rhinitis include:

  • Blocked nose: Individuals with allergic rhinitis in Singapore often experience nasal congestion, making it difficult to breathe through the nose.
  • Rhinorrhea (runny nose): Allergic rhinitis can lead to excessive production of clear, watery nasal discharge.
  • Nasal itch: Many people with allergic rhinitis in Singapore experience persistent itching inside the nose, which can be quite bothersome.
  • Sneezing: Frequent bouts of sneezing are a typical symptom, often triggered by exposure to allergens.

In addition to the above-mentioned symptoms, allergic rhinitis can also manifest with the following:

  • Eye itching: Itchy, watery, and red eyes are common accompanying symptoms, known as allergic conjunctivitis.
  • Mouth breathing: Due to nasal congestion, individuals with allergic rhinitis may breathe through their mouths to compensate for the blocked nose.
  • Headaches and fatigue are also some symptoms of allergic rhinitis

Is allergic rhinitis inherited?

The predisposition to develop allergies are inherited. For example, in parents who have a history of asthma, eczema and allergic rhinitis, there is a tendency for their children to develop allergies as well. However, specific type of allergies are not inherited. If a parent has asthma, it does not automatically indicate their child will have asthma as well. 

Prevention and Treatments for Allergic Rhinitis

It is important to avoid triggers that can aggravate allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis can be effectively managed through a combination of preventive measures and treatments. One key aspect of prevention is allergen avoidance, which involves minimizing exposure to triggers that can exacerbate allergic symptoms. In Singapore, one of the most common allergens is house dust mites. Here are some strategies to avoid house dust mites and alleviate allergic rhinitis:

  • Keep soft toys away from the bed and wash them regularly in hot water (>60 degrees Celsius) to eliminate dust mites.
  • Wash bedsheets and pillowcases frequently in hot water (>60 degrees Celsius) to remove dust mites and their allergens.
  • Remove or reduce the use of carpets, as they can harbor dust mites. Opt for easy-to-clean flooring options instead.
  • Regularly wash curtains to minimize dust mites and their allergens.
  • Ensure that your air conditioning ducts are cleaned regularly to prevent the accumulation of dust and allergens.

The following medication can also help in the treatment of allergic rhinitis.

  • Antihistamines – Antihistamines can stop your body from producing histamine, which is a natural chemical your immune system makes to defend your body from allergens. These are safe and generally works quickly. 
  • Intranasal steroids – The amount of steroids entering into the bloodstream is small and should not cause any long term effects in children. 
  • Nasal rinse – These usually consists of isotonic solutions and can make medications more effective. 
  • Immunotherapy – Immunotherapy is a desensitization regime that would  decrease your immune system’s response to particular allergens and control rhinitis symptoms over time. It is usually given for a period of 3-5 years. 

What is allergen avoidance?

Allergen avoidance is avoiding triggers that can aggravate the allergic rhinitis. In Singapore, the most common allergen is house dust mites.

Common strategies to avoid house dust mites include:

  • Avoid having soft toys near the bed and wash them regularly in hot water (> 60 degrees)
  • Wash bedsheets and pillowcases in water > 60 degrees
  • Keep away carpets and wash your curtains regularly
  • Ensure that your air conditioning ducts are regularly cleaned. 

Can allergic rhinitis go away permanently?

Having allergic rhinitis in Singapore can vary in its duration and severity among individuals due to different reasons. In some cases, it may go away on its own over time else it may persist for years or even be a lifelong condition. Assessing this with a specialist proves helpful. The conditions here in Singapore like high humidity can lead to increased mould growth, dust mites, and other allergens, which can worsen allergic rhinitis symptoms.

Despite these challenges, individuals with allergic rhinitis can still manage their symptoms effectively in Singapore.

Frequently asked questions about allergic rhinitis

Is allergic rhinitis common in Singapore?

Allergic rhinitis is very common in Singapore, affecting approximately 24% of our population. It affects many children between 4 and 17 years old as well.

Will allergic rhinitis go away?

Allergic rhinitis is usually temporary and will go away on its own after a few days. However, some people may suffer from chronic allergic rhinitis.

Is allergic rhinitis and sinus the same?

Allergic rhinitis and sinusitis both exhibit similar symptoms but they are different conditions. Allergic rhinitis is the inflammation of the nose while sinusitis is the inflammation of the sinus cavities.