Allergic rhinitis - self-care
Allergic rhinitis is a group of symptoms that affect your nose. They occur when you breathe in something you are allergic to, such as dust mites, animal dander, or pollen.
Allergic rhinitis is called hay fever when it is caused by plant pollen and other outdoor particles.
Hay fever - self-care; Seasonal rhinitis - self-care; Allergies - allergic rhinitis - self-care
Avoid Your Triggers
Things that make allergies worse are called triggers. It may be impossible to completely avoid all triggers. But, you can do many things to limit your or your child's exposure to them:
Some changes you may need to make include:
The amount of pollen in the air can affect whether hay fever symptoms develop. More pollen is in the air on hot, dry, windy days. On cool, damp, rainy days, most pollen is washed to the ground.
Medicines for Allergic Rhinitis
Nasal corticosteroid sprays are the most effective treatment. Many brands are available. You can buy some brands without a prescription. For other brands, you need a prescription.
Antihistamines are medicines that work well for treating allergy symptoms. They are often used when symptoms do not occur very often or do not last very long.
Antihistamine nasal sprays work well for treating allergic rhinitis. They are only available with a prescription.
Decongestants are medicines that help dry up a runny or stuffy nose. They come as pills, liquids, capsules, or nasal sprays. You can buy them over-the-counter (OTC), without a prescription.
For mild allergic rhinitis, a nasal wash can help remove mucus from your nose. You can buy a saline spray at a drugstore or make one at home. To make a nasal wash, use 1 cup (240 milliliters) of warm water, 1/2 a teaspoon (2.5 grams) of salt, and a pinch of baking soda.
When to Call the Doctor
Make an appointment with your provider if:
Corren J, Baroody FM, Pawankar R. Allergic and nonallergic rhinitis. In: Adkinson NF Jr, Bochner BS, Burks AW, et al, eds. Middleton's Allergy Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 42.
Seidman MD, Gurgel RK, Lin SY, et al. Clinical practice guideline: allergic rhinitis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015;152(1 Suppl):S1-S43. PMID: 25644617 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25644617.
Wright LS, Phipatanakul W. Environmental remediation in the treatment of allergy and asthma: latest updates. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2014;14(3):419. PMID: 24488258 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24488258.
Review Date: 4/15/2018
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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