Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever) and You!

Allergies, including allergic rhinitis, affect an estimated 40 to 50 million people in the United States. Some allergies may interfere with day-to-day activities or lessen the quality of life.

What is Rhinitis?
Rhinitis is a term describing the symptoms produced by nasal irritation or inflammation. Symptoms of rhinitis include runny nose, itching, sneezing and stuffy nose due to blockage or congestion. These symptoms are the nose’s natural response to inflammation and irritation.

Arbitrarily, rhinitis lasting less than six weeks is called acute rhinitis, and persistent symptoms are called chronic rhinitis. Acute rhinitis is usually caused by infections or chemical irritation. Chronic rhinitis may be caused by allergy or a variety of other factors.

The nose normally produces mucus, which traps substances like dust and pollens. Mucus flows from the front of the nose and drains down the back of the throat, but when mucus production is excessive, it can flow from the front, as a runny nose, or become noticeable from the back, as a post-nasal drip. Nasal mucus, normally a thin, clear liquid, can become thick or colored, perhaps due to dryness, infection or pollution. When post-nasal drip is excessive, thick, or contains irritating substances, cough is the natural response for clearing the throat.

Itching and sneezing are also natural responses to irritation caused by allergic reactions, chemical exposures including cigarette smoke, or temperature change.

Allergic rhinitis is known to most people as hay fever. Allergic rhinitis is a very common medical problem affecting more than 15 percent of the population, both adults and children.

Allergic rhinitis takes two different forms - seasonal and perennial. Symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis occur in spring, summer and or/early fall and are usually caused by allergic sensitivity to pollens from trees, grasses or weeds, or to mold spores. Other people experience symptoms year-round, a condition called “perennial allergic rhinitis.” It’s generally caused by sensitivity to house dust, house dust mites, animal danders and/or mold spores.
Some people may experience both types of rhinitis, with perennial symptoms worsening during specific pollen seasons.

How is Allergic Rhinitis diagnosed?
Your allergist may begin by taking a detailed history, looking for clues in your lifestyle that will help pinpoint the cause of your symptoms. You’ll be asked about your work and home environments, your eating habits, your family’s medical history, the frequency and severity of your symptoms and if you have pets. Then, you may require some tests. Your allergist may employ skin testing, in which small amounts of suspected allergen are introduced into the skin. Skin-testing is the easiest, most sensitive and generally least expensive way of making the diagnosis.
Another advantage is that results are available immediately In rare cases, it also is necessary to do a special blood test for allergens.

The allergist can develop a treatment plan for your individual condition. The goal will be to enable you to lead a life that is as normal and symptom-free as possible

If you have any further questions please contact our hotline:

Ellen Epstein, M.D. FAAAAI, FACAAI
Adult and Pediatric Allergy
165 N. Village Ave.-Suite 141
Rockville Centre, NY 11570 516-678-0056
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Dr. Ellen Epstein is a Board Certified Adult and Pediatric Allergist in practice since 1986. Dr. Epstein earned her M.D. degree from New York University School of Medicine. She teaches at and is on the staff of Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Franklin Hospital Medical Center and South Nassau Communities Hospital. Dr. Epstein and her staff provide expert professional treatment in a warm and caring atmosphere.


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