Perennial allergic rhinitis is usually triggered by indoor allergens such as house dust mite and pet skin flakes. It's similar to hay fever - the allergen causes inflammation and irritation of the delicate linings in the nose and eyes.
More and more people are developing allergic rhinitis. Some have symptoms all year round, while others have seasonal symptoms (such as hayfever). As with asthma and eczema, it can run in families.
What causes it?
Perennial allergic rhinitis starts in early childhood and occurs all year round. It's caused by allergy to the droppings of house dust mites or pet skin flakes. Occasionally, indoor mould spores and, in rare cases, food allergy can be causes.
There is often a family predisposition to developing rhinitis and other allergies.
What are the symptoms?
The following symptoms can be observed:
- Symptoms of a 'permanent cold'
- Blocked stuffy nose
- Headaches and earache
- Constant sore throats and postnasal drip
- Sleep disturbances and snoring
- Loss of taste and smell
- Poor concentration
What's the treatment?
Low-dose steroid nasal sprays and nose drops are the most effective treatment, but need to be used continuously on a daily basis throughout the year.
Decongestant tablets and sprays will help relieve a stuffy, blocked nose with catarrh, but should be used for short periods only.
Antihistamine medication may help
Antihistamine medication may help, but it's more effective for hay fever. Anti-allergy nasal sprays and eye drops are ineffective in perennial allergic rhinitis. Ipratropium nasal sprays treat the constantly 'dripping' nose of rhinitis.
Immunotherapy, when available, might be considered in severe house dust mite allergic rhinitis.
Can I prevent it?
The only way to prevent perennial allergic rhinitis is to avoid the allergen that causes it. Allergy testing is, therefore, important to identify the exact indoor allergen that provokes the allergy.