Allergic Rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever, is an allergic reaction that causes sneezing, an itchy nose, and a sore throat.
Insects, mould, pet dander and pollen can all lead to allergic rhinitis symptoms. Allergic rhinitis can make you feel terrible, but you should be able to get some relief from it through allergy medications and lifestyle changes.
What is allergic rhinitis?
The NHS states that allergic rhinitis is “inflammation of the inside of the nose caused by an allergen, such as pollen, dust, mould or flakes of skin from certain animals. It is a very common condition, estimated to affect around 1 in every 5 people in the UK.”
When your body breathes in allergens through your nose or mouth, your body will react by releasing a chemical known as histamine
What are the symptoms of allergic rhinitis (hay fever)?
Allergic rhinitis tends to cause cold-like symptoms such as sneezing, itchiness and a blocked or runny nose.
Some people only get allergic rhinitis for a few months at a time as they are sensitive to high pollen counts in the summer, for example, while other people can get it all year round.
Most people’s allergic rhinitis symptoms are mild and can be treated easily. However, some people can suffer from persistent and severe symptoms, causing sleep problems and interfering with their day to day life.
How common is allergic rhinitis (hay fever)?
Allergy UK says that allergic rhinitis is the most common form of non-infectious rhinitis, affecting between 10-15% of children and 26% of adults in the UK. However, recent research by Kleenex shows that 49% of people reported suffering from hay fever symptoms.
Who might suffer from allergic rhinitis (hay fever)?
Many allergies are passed down through families, and so you are more likely to have hay fever if you have a parent or other family member with allergies.
People who suffer from asthma or eczema are also more likely to develop hay fever as well.
What causes allergic rhinitis (hay fever)?
Allergic rhinitis is caused by your body’s immune system reacting to an irritant in the air. The irritant (also known as an allergen) is so tiny that it can be easily inhaled through the nose or mouth.
Allergens are harmless to most people, but if you have allergic rhinitis then your immune system will think that the allergen is intending to intrude. Your immune system will then kick in to protect your body by releasing natural chemicals such as histamine into your bloodstream. Histamine causes mucous membranes in the eyes, nose and throat to become itchy and inflamed as they work hard to get rid of the allergen.
Seasonal and ongoing allergies can result from many allergens, including:
- Dust mites that live in carpets, bedding and furniture
- Mould spores
- Pollen from grass, trees and weeds
- Tiny flakes of dead animal skin
Food allergies can also cause inflammation in the nose and throat. If you think you are having an allergic reaction to something you ate, get medical help right away as food allergies can be life-threatening.
How can I test for allergic rhinitis (hay fever)?
Test2Go offer an Allergy Test which is a general test for allergy, and which will tell you whether the level of allergy antibodies in your blood is in the normal range or high so that you can discover if any symptoms you may have had might be allergy-related.
How does the Allergy Test work?
People with allergies will produce IgE antibodies that react with allergens such as dust mites, pollen or pets.
The Test2Go Allergy Test uses a pair of antibodies that specifically detect IgE antibodies by producing a coloured test line under the T mark of the cassette.
A positive result will occur when the level of IgE antibodies is higher than the normal range (>150 IU/mL) as determined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) reference.
When should the allergy test be performed?
This test is unsuitable for children younger than 6 years old as the reference range for normal levels of IgE in the blood is different for young children as compared to older children and adults.
The test itself can be taken at any time of the day.
What should I do if the test result is positive?
If the test result is positive it means that the IgE levels in your blood are higher than normal. If you are also suffering from allergy symptoms or you are worried that you may have allergic rhinitis then you should speak with your doctor.