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What is a Nasal Allergy?

Article Details
  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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A nasal allergy is a reaction to a substance that is harmful to the body. Allergens that are spread in the air, such as dust, pollen, smoke, and pet dander can enter the nose and irritate the inner lining, leading to an allergic reaction. An individual who suffers from a nasal allergy may experience a runny nose, frequent bouts of sneezing, and red eyes. The nose, eyes, and ears often become itchy, and severe reactions can lead to difficulty breathing as the sinuses and throat become inflamed. Allergies can be treated with prescription and over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal sprays, or regular allergy shots.

When an adverse substance enters a person's nose, the nostrils become irritated and the immune system releases histamines to combat allergens. As histamines attempt to fight off airborne particles, they cause inflammation in the nostrils and lead to a number of uncomfortable symptoms. Mucus begins to build up in the sinuses and nasal cavity, which can lead to a runny nose or stuffiness. When excess mucus cannot exit the nose, it drains into the throat in a condition known as post-nasal drip. Drainage can cause inflammation and swelling in the throat, leading to coughing and difficulty breathing.

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The presence of a nasal allergy may cause the eyes to become watery, itchy, and red. Inflammation can also affect the ears, resulting in an itching or burning sensation that is made worse by rubbing. Congested sinuses can lead to headaches, and feelings of nausea, fatigue, and weakness. If a nasal allergy is not treated, significant hearing problems or sinus infections can occur.

An individual who experiences infrequent or mild allergic reactions can usually find relief by using over-the-counter medications and taking steps to limit his or her exposure to allergens. Oral antihistamines and decongestants are effective at relieving most symptoms, including stuffiness, sneezing, and runny noses. Nasal sprays can help open up nostrils and allow for easier breathing. Many people try to eliminate indoor allergens, such as pet dander and dust, by investing in air filters and cleaning their homes regularly. Outdoor allergens, like pollens and molds, are more difficult to control, though people can usually avoid fields, gardens, or other areas that trigger their symptoms.

A severe reaction or persistent nasal allergy necessitates a trip to the doctor's office. A physician can conduct a physical examination, determine the exact causes of symptoms, and prescribe the appropriate treatment. A patient may be given high-strength oral antihistamines and decongestants or steroid nasal sprays to relieve symptoms and prevent future reactions. Some individuals benefit from regular allergy shots, which prepare the body to better handle specific airborne allergens.

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