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ALLERGIC RHINITIS

What is an Allergy?

  • An allergy is a condition where the immune system of a person reacts to a stimulus in the environment or in something that was eaten.
     

  • An allergy is essentially hypersensitivity or an abnormal reaction to a substance that is usually harmless to most people. 
     

  • Allergy is often inherited and starts early in life, but sometimes can develop later in adulthood.

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What is Allergic Rhinitis?

  • Commonly referred to as “sinus”, Allergic Rhinitis is the specific allergic condition related to the nasal passages. 
     

  • The primary symptoms include:

    • a running nose

    • excessive sneezing

    • nasal congestion

    • post-nasal drip
       

  • There can sometimes be associated cough, throat irritation and eye itchiness. 
     

  • Also related to allergic rhinitis is Asthma, a hypersensitivity primarily of the lower airways or lungs. These two conditions can often co-exist, and both have to be controlled well.
     

  • People with allergic rhinitis often experience other conditions such as skin eczema, allergic conjunctivitis, food allergies, etc. 

Allergens

  • Allergens are particles that trigger the immune system to produce a response. 
     

  • When allergic individuals are exposed to an allergen, their immune system produces an excessive response that results in immediate symptoms, such as sneezing, running nose, itchiness and nasal congestion. Normally, this same allergen would not cause such symptoms in “normal” or non-allergic people.
     

  • In Singapore, common allergens can include:

    • House dust mites

    • Cockroaches

    • Animal dander and fur, dog fur, cat hair, etc.

    • Pollen

    • Types of Grass, e.g., Bermuda grass

    • Common mug wort

    • Fungus and indoor or outdoor mold
       

  • To determine what you are allergic to, a skin prick test is available.
     

  • Alternatively, a RAST blood test can be done for specific allergens. 

Allergy Management Services and Treatment Options

There are various medical and surgical options, such as:
 

  • Consultations - by reviewing your medical history and conducting a physical examination. This includes a flexible fibre optic nasal endoscopy to exclude other nasal or sinus issues.
     

  • Skin prick test – tests the skin’s reactions to identify which allergens may be triggering your symptoms.
     

  • Blood test – RAST, tests blood concentration of Ig E antibodies to identify specific allergens.
     

  • Environmental control - Advice on identifying and controlling potential allergens at home and at work. 
     

  • Medication therapy - either nasal sprays or oral antihistamine pills to control or prevent symptoms.
     

  • Immunotherapy – desensitizes your body to allergens. Immunotherapy relieves the need for long term nasal sprays or oral antihistamine pills. 
     

  • Surgical options - Should your symptoms be associated with significant structural blockage of the nasal passage, or your nasal congestion does not improve with medications, surgery may be advised. Surgery ranges from minor outpatient procedures to inpatient surgery, but it is important to note that surgery alone does not cure allergies.

If you would like to find out more about Allergic Rhinitis

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