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Know your nose – what a runny nose really means

Runny nose

Know your nose – what a runny nose really means

At this time of year, it’s not uncommon to start feeling the ill-effects of the cold. Puffy eyes, dry skin, and runny noses are par for the course in the deep midwinter. It can be tempting to reach for the first cure-all in range. However, a runny nose can come as a result of any number of ailments. The common cold has that name as it comes in so many variations. It’s essential to distinguish between what might be a temporary affliction and what might be a reoccurring reaction. Once you know why you’re ill, then you can understand how to treat it.

Allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is the most common type of rhinitis and conjunctivitis (that’s a runny nose and itchy eyes to you and me). It can actually be rather easily differentiated from the numerous kinds of non-allergic rhinitis through a quick history and physical examination. It may be seasonal, perennial, or occupational/environmental. Once you remember that you can trace almost all cases of allergic rhinitis back to one of these three triggers, it then becomes much easier to differentiate from non-allergic rhinitis.

We are all capable of having reactions triggered by non-allergic rhinitis. Rhinitis itself is simply an inflammation of the nasal mucosa. Or, to put it another way, your body reacts to a foreign agent by increasing the production of mucus. All in the name of defence! It’s always interesting to remind people that their increased mucus production isn’t because of the malady ailing them. It’s actually the body’s attempt to protect itself from further harm!

Fight the right way

While the reaction may be the same, understanding the root cause is the key to knowing how to treat it. Accurate diagnosis is important because therapies that are effective for allergic rhinitis, for example, nasal antihistamines, would exhibit a markedly lesser effect in cases of non-allergic rhinitis. As a systemic issue, further symptoms, such as general fatigue or headaches, may accompany allergic rhinitis. Equally, it may present itself more readily in people more susceptible to further allergic conditions; asthma, eczema, or sinusitis.

If you find yourself repeatedly suffering from such symptoms, it may be in your best interest to consider allergy testing. Advancements in the field of allergen-specific immunotherapy have proven to be immensely useful in providing relief for thousands of allergen sufferers, and can often alleviate vulnerability to allergens almost entirely after prolonged treatment. So the next time you feel a bit under the weather, don’t just reach for the tissues but take a minute to think about your health and how they may just be a better way.

If you’d like to take an allergy test in order to better understand your allergies, please book an appointment with our consultants.

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