When Your Stuffy Nose is Not a Cold But an Allergy

Doctor at hospital

When you suffer from chronic nasal congestion and finally decide to consult with a Colorado ENT, you might be surprised at the diagnosis the doctor will give you. Based on doctors’ diagnosis, the prevalence of allergic rhinitis in America is 15 percent. You might be one of the people suffering from the condition and do not know it.

What does it mean to be diagnosed with an allergy?

Allergies have no cure. Fortunately, it is not usually fatal, except in specific circumstances. Millions of Americans are currently managing allergies with medication and lifestyle modification. A person has an allergy when his or her immune system elicits a cascade of reactions in the presence of an allergen. The reaction presents as symptoms of a runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing and sneezing. Rashes may be present as well. The allergen may be something inhaled into the lungs or ingested in the mouth. Some allergens cause the response with contact on the skin. Allergic reactions can be fatal when the person experiences trouble breathing, and in extreme cases, a severe anaphylactic reaction from food allergies or insect stings may lead to death.

What is allergic rhinitis?

More than 50 million Americans are suffering from allergies today. It is considered a chronic illness and affects both children and adults. Based on a report published in 2015, allergic rhinitis affects 20 million adult Americans and 6.1 million American children. While many people outgrow allergies diagnosed in childhood, a lot carry the burden of illness with them into adulthood.

Allergic rhinitis also goes by the name “hay fever”. You may be familiar with the discomfort of a stuffy nose upon waking and itching at the roof of the mouth. When your eyes become watery, you know that fall is approaching, and you think twice before going outdoors where flowers bloom, and grasses abound. Some people experience seasonal hay fever while others have perennial allergic rhinitis caused by dust mites, insect droppings, or mold spores.

Medical management of allergies focuses on addressing respiratory symptoms and other manifestations. Also, the doctors advise caution and decreasing or removing exposure to allergens/triggers of symptoms. When you receive a diagnosis of perennial allergic rhinitis, you may want to consider allergy shots (immunotherapy) given promising results in a majority of sufferers.

Is allergic rhinitis the same as the common cold?

Man having cold

Colds are allergies are not the same thing since the common cold is due to the action of viruses on human cells. While they share the same symptoms and may be simultaneously present at any one time, colds and hay fever are separate entities. An EENT specialist will explain that itchy eyes are not usually associated with the common cold, and fever that occurs due to a virus is not typically present in allergies. Lastly, colds are self-limiting while allergies persist.

The common cold comes and goes, but an allergy persists for many years. You would want to consult with an ears, nose and throat specialist if you suffer from nasal congestion, itchy eyes, and a runny nose periodically.