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Allergic Rhinitis
by Charles V. Klucka, DO

Allergies affecting the nose and/or eyes (allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis) affects about 20% - 30% of the population.

It causes millions of lost work days and school days annually, and is associated with both indirect and direct treatment costs in the billions.

The Primary symptoms of allergic rhinitis are 1) sneeze, 2) itch, 3) watery drainage, and 4) stuffiness (congestion).
The diagnosis of allergy can be made by blood testing (RAST) or skin testing (allergist office). Skin Testing is recommended by the Academy of Allergy; it is generally more thorough, quite safe, and yields immediate results.

Although antihistamines are a good first start for treating many nasal symptoms, especially itch, sneeze, and watery drainage, they do little for stuffiness or sinus pressure. Side effects or antihistamines can be dry mouth or drowsiness, but the newer agents have far fewer side effects.

Oral decongestants (Sudafed) help stuffiness and sinus pressure, but can aggravate high blood pressure, heart disease, or prostate problems.

Nasal steroid sprays are the one (prescription) drug which can prevent all four primary symptoms of allergy quite well when used regularly. Most, like Flonase and Nasacort AQ, are now over the counter.

Ask your doctor for a referral to see us if you:

* Have uncontrolled allergy symptoms despite using medication.
* Cannot take a medication regimen due to side effects, or simply want to know all your alternatives.
* Want to know exactly what items to which you may be allergic and how to avoid them.
* Wish to consider an alternative treatment such as allergy injections, or immunotherapy, which incidentally is the only treatment known to cure allergies or airborne allergens, or put them in remission for years.

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