If your nose tickles and you suffer from frequent sneezing fits, you might have allergies to dust, mold, pet dander, or pollen. Sneezing fits due to a nasal allergy seem to occur in the morning, just when you are trying to get your day started. Although there is no cure for nasal allergies, also called allergic rhinitis, there are many options to control your symptoms.
How Will I Know If I Have Nasal Allergies?
If you have nasal allergies, typical symptoms include sneezing and an itchy, runny or stuffy nose.
You may also have:
Asthma or trouble breathing
Eye tearing, redness, and irritation
Pressure behind the cheeks or headache
Bluish gray circles under the eyes
Itchy mouth, throat or skin
Raised areas or welts on your skin (hives)
Other conditions, such as a cold or sinus infection, can cause similar symptoms. This fact can make it difficult to distinguish between nasal allergy and a simple cold at the onset of your symptoms. You can schedule a visit with your doctor for a diagnosis. Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms, such as when they occur, how long your sneezing lasts, and if you have recently changed anything in your household environment that could be triggering a nasal allergy.
Your doctor can identify your potential allergens with a skin prick test or a blood test. In a skin prick test, your doctor will prick your skin with a tiny amount of allergy causing substances and watch for a reaction. A blood test checks for a certain type of antibody that causes allergies.
Who Gets Nasal Allergies?
Nasal allergies tend to run in families. If any type of allergy runs in your family, your risk is higher. Nasal allergies often occur in children and young adults. Contact with secondhand smoke or a high level of dust mites or cockroaches, especially as a child, can increase your risk of nasal allergies.
What Can I Do to Prevent Nasal Allergies?
Allergens, substances that cause your symptoms, are the culprits in nasal allergies. One way to prevent symptoms is to avoid common allergens, such as dust, mold, pollen, cockroaches, and animal dander.
Try these tips:
Avoid house and yard work without wearing a dust mask. Ideally, have someone else do these activities.
Stay indoors, shut windows, and turn on the air conditioning when pollen counts are high. This often occurs in the morning and on warm, dry, windy days.
After contact with allergens wash your hands, change your clothes, and take a shower. You can also wipe down your head with a washcloth if you can’t take a shower right away.
Wash linens in hot water and vacuum mattresses often. Use “mite-proof” covers on mattresses and pillows. Replace older bed pillows.
Maintain a clean, dry house. Keep humidity levels below 55%. This reduces common allergens, such as dust, mold, and dust mites.
Exterminate cockroaches with a store-bought product or have the bugs professionally exterminated.
Install a furnace filter designed for allergies and change it often. If you have your air ducts cleaned, make sure it is done correctly and the service provider cleans all components of your heating (and cooling) system.
Install blinds and hardwood floors instead of drapes and carpeting to reduce dust.
Remember, cats and dogs introduce fresh allergens into your home every time they come inside. Pets require frequent brushing and bathing (hopefully by someone else!).
What Are the Best Remedies for Nasal Allergy Relief?
Techniques to avoid allergens may not work for you or may not be practical in your specific circumstance.
You may need one or more of following medications to relieve your symptoms:
Antihistamines to relieve itching, sneezing, and nasal congestion
Decongestants to relieve nasal congestion
Corticosteroids to prevent and reduce nasal congestion and itchiness
Montelukast (Singulair), a leukotriene modifier, to relieve many allergy symptoms including asthma
Saline nasal sprays to rinse out allergens and break up nasal congestion