What is sinus?

“Sinus” is an anatomical term to describe the hollow cavities within the skull. Sometimes, it is used colloquially to describe allergic rhinitis.

What is allergic rhinitis?

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:

  • blocked nose
  • rhinorrhea (runny nose)
  • nasal itch 
  • sneezing

Other symptoms include eye itching, mouth breathing and chronic cough caused by post nasal drip. 

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. 

How do I treat Allergic Rhinitis?

Treatment of allergic rhinitis is multipronged. It can be controlled with:

  • Allergen avoidance 
  • Medications such as nasal sprays and anithistamines.

Occasionally, immunotherapy would have to be considered as well

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. 

What medications are used in allergic rhinitis?

Common medications are: 

  • Antihistamines
    These are safe and generally works quickly. Some types of antihistamines cause drowsiness
  • Intranasal steroids
    The amount of steroids entering into the bloodstream is small and should not cause any long term effects in children. 
  • Nasal rinses.
    These usually consists of isotonic solutions and can make medications more effective
  • Immunotherapy 

What is immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is a desensitization regime that would involve the administration of allergens over a period of time. It is usually given for a period of 3-5 years. 

It is indicated in certain groups of patients.

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.