Science Questions

Sun, 9th Jul 2006

Part of the show Allergies, the Immune System and Parasites


Raymond in Soham asked:

I suffer from rhinitis and I have done for a long time. Nobody seems to know if there's a cure going for it yet.


Rhinitis is inflammation of your nose and hayfever is one of the types of rhinitis. So hayfever is a bit of a stupid name but it's one that has stuck, even though there's no hay and there's no fever involved. Inflammation of the nose can happen for lots of different reasons, but if you are allergic to a certain form of a pollen, then you may have allergic rhinitis. This means that when you inhale the substance you're allergic to, it triggers all those running, itching and sneezing symptoms in your nose. Nose sprays can play an extremely important role but the first thing to do is find out exactly which type of rhinitis you have. For that purpose you may need to see an immunologist or an allergist who specialises in allergies of the nose. They will undertake a series of allergy tests to find out what's causing the problem and how to avoid them the best. The next treatment is to reduce the symptoms in the nose and there are lots of drugs for doing that. There are all sorts of nasal sprays, although typically steroid nasal sprays which are much safer than steroid tablets and don't have the same side effects. Antihistamines are also a very common treatment, but there are other drugs too.


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