Diagnosing and Treating Allergic Rhinitis 


Allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, can cause symptoms such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, and fatigue that can significantly impact your quality of life. At Chesapeake Ear Nose & Throat, headquartered in Baltimore, MD, we offer allergy testing as well as immunotherapy to help you manage your symptoms, build a tolerance to irritants, and improve your health. 

Types of Allergic Rhinitis 

According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, approximately 7.8 percent of people over the age of 18 in the U.S. suffer from allergic rhinitis. Worldwide, it roughly affects 10 to 30 percent of the population. Seasonal and perennial are the two types of allergic rhinitis. While seasonal allergic rhinitis usually occurs in the spring and fall due to outdoor allergens, perennial allergic rhinitis can cause problems year-round for those affected by both indoor or outdoor allergens.

sneezing man

About eight percent of American adults suffer from hay fever.

Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis

After coming into contact with certain allergens, hay fever sufferers may notice one or more symptoms:

  • Runny, stuffy, or itchy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Sore or scratchy throat
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Sinus headaches
  • Skin disorders, such as hives or eczema
  • Chronic fatigue

Living with untreated rhinitis can seriously impede your daily activities and quality of life. Some of the more common long-term side effects include:

  • Interrupted sleep patterns due to difficulty breathing
  • Frequent sinus infections
  • Reoccurring sinus headaches
  • Ear infections
  • Aggravated asthma symptoms
  • Missed work or school
  • Reduced productivity

Common Causes of Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is considered an allergic reaction to a particular allergen, such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, cat saliva, or mold. Pollen seems to be the most common cause and is the culprit for seasonal allergies. 

Once the body comes into contact with the allergen, it naturally releases histamine to try and defend against the foreign substance. This chemical is what causes certain symptoms, such as itchy eyes, a runny nose, and difficulty breathing. People who suffer from seasonal allergies find fall and spring more problematic due to tree, flower, grass, and weed pollen.

While anyone can be affected by allergic rhinitis, there are certain risk factors and triggers that can increase your chances for developing this condition, such as:

  • A family history of allergies
  • Asthma
  • Eczema
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Shifts in weather (humidity, cold temperatures, wind)
  • Perfumes, colognes, and hairspray
  • Fire and smoke
  • Environmental factors such as air pollutants

Diagnosing and Treating Allergic Rhinitis

If any of these symptoms persist longer than one to two weeks, or seem to occur or worsen during the fall and spring, visiting an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist is recommended. Our doctors at Chesapeake Ear Nose & Throat will help diagnose the source of your problem through a series of blood and skin allergy tests. During a skin allergy test, the doctor will prick and place several substances onto the surface of your skin. If your body reacts with a small red bump, that is usually a sign you are allergic.

For patients who have inconclusive skin allergy tests, or require further testing, our doctors also offer blood testing. The RAST (radioallergosorbent) blood test is used to calculate the volume of immunoglobulin E antibodies when exposed to certain allergens. Once the test results are revealed, depending on the severity of your allergic rhinitis, the doctor may recommend:

  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Eye drops
  • Nasal sprays
  • Corticosteroids
  • Immunotherapy (allergy shots) 

Suffering From Allergic Rhinitis?

If you are currently suffering from symptoms of allergic rhinitis, please contact our office today online or by calling (410) 356-2626. We can provide the tests and treatments necessary to help alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life.