Understanding Nonallergic Rhinitis

The condition that causes chronic sneezing, congestion, or runny nose without an “allergic” cause has a name: Nonallergic rhinitis. While one can argue that these symptoms sound similar to those of allergic rhinitis (hay fever), nonallergic rhinitis differs because it doesn’t involve the immune system at all.

So you might be wondering… what are the causes of nonallergic rhinitis? Well, airborne pollutants or odors, certain foods or beverages, some medications, changes in the weather or an underlying chronic health problem can all trigger symptoms of nonallergic rhinitis.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Postnasal drip

Something of note is that with these symptoms, some people might also experience itchy nose, eyes or throat, although it’s rare. Nonallergic rhinitis is the diagnosis for these symptoms following allergy testing, when all the results are negative.

As far as treatment goes, it completely depends on how much discomfort this condition is causing you. For more mild cases, avoiding triggers could be enough. If you’re suffering from more severe symptoms, certain medications such as antihistamines and nasal sprays may provide relief.

At Certified Allergy & Asthma Consultants, we’re happy to help you determine what’s happening, and help you with treatment. Interested in setting up a consultation? Visit our website to find out which of our five locations is most convenient for you.

How to Tell the Difference Between a Cold and Allergies

As the weather gets colder and we head into the fall and winter months, many of us feel the pain of typical cold symptoms: stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, general discomfort and even a feeling of sluggishness. But the big question is: is it a cold, or could it be allergies? At Certified Allergy & Asthma Consultants, we’re here to help you determine the difference.

What is a cold?

First, let’s look at the definition of a cold. A cold is a virus and your immune system defends itself, which is what brings on the classic symptoms of a cough and/or a stuffy nose. Colds are contagious and can be picked up when someone who’s infected sneezes, coughs, or even shakes your hand. Colds generally last a couple of weeks, at the most, and then you’re relieved from symptoms.

What are allergies?

On the other hand, an allergy is an abnormal reaction to substances ordinarily harmless to most people. These substances are called “allergens” and can be found indoors, outdoors and in things we eat. For those who do have allergies, your body is mistaking harmless things like dust or pollen for germs, and attacks them.

When this “attack” happens, your body releases chemicals such as histamine, just as it does when your body is fighting a cold. That’s when you recognize symptoms such as swelling in the passageways of your nose, sneezing and coughing.

So what’s the difference?

  • Length of Symptoms
    • For a cold, you can expect symptoms to last 3-14 days. For allergies, you can experience symptoms for days or even months! As long as you’re in contact with the allergy trigger, you’ll be experiencing symptoms.
    • *Something to note: Fever is never a sign of allergies, just like itchy eyes are never a sign of a cold.
  • When it Happens
    • A cold often happens in the winter, but it’s possible to get a cold any time of the year. As for allergies, you can get these any time of the year, but you’ll typically notice some allergy triggers present seasonally.
  • When it Starts
    • If you get a cold, symptoms will take a few days to appear after the infection occurs. In contrast, symptoms from allergies can begin immediately after you’re in contact with the allergy trigger.

If you’re still unsure whether you’re suffering from a common cold or allergies, it might be in your best interest to set up an appointment with the Certified Asthma & Allergy Consultants. We’d be happy to help you determine what’s causing your discomfort and come up with a solution! Learn more about our practice on our website.

What Causes Allergies

The topic of allergies can be very tricky, especially when you’re referring to allergies that are found indoors as well as outdoors. So what exactly causes these pesky allergies and how can you effectively treat them? Let’s dive a little deeper to find out.

Outdoor Allergies

Pollen from trees, grasses and weeds along with mold spores are all considered common outdoor allergens. Allergens act as “triggers” which cause people to experience symptoms, aka the sneezing, itchy watery eyes, nasal congestion and coughing many of us feel in the spring, summer and fall. If you’ve ever heard the term “seasonal allergies,” this is referring to outdoor allergies that trigger at different times of the year.

Here’s a breakdown of those allergies:

  • April-June: Tree Pollen
  • May-July: Grass Pollen
  • August-September: Ragweed Pollen
  • September – October: Mold Spores

Indoor Allergies

Alternatively, there are also indoor allergies which can impact us throughout the entire year. Indoor allergens are comprised of animal dander from animals such as cats and dogs, as well as dust mites and indoor molds. These allergy symptoms typically include sneezing, nasal stuffiness, runny nose, itchy, watery and/or red eyes, itchy ears, and a scratchy throat. In addition, sinus headaches, facial pain and cough can also occur.

Diagnosing/Treating Allergies

Now that we understand the different indoor and outdoor allergies and what causes our reactions to them, it’s time to determine how to treat them. First, a diagnosis is in order. To diagnose allergies, a physician first obtains a history from the patient and performs a physical exam. From there, allergy skin testing is usually performed to determine the cause of any allergic symptoms.

Sadly, there’s no quick and easy answer to treating allergic diseases. The first step is determining the specific cause of symptoms, as mentioned above, followed by a treatment plan including medications to help control symptoms.

To learn more about allergies, diagnosing and treatment of them, visit our website for additional information or give us a call today to set up an appointment.

Are Allergies Genetic?

The last thing you want is to see your child suffering from the same allergy symptoms you have had your whole life. But as they get older, you see many similarities to when you started to develop your allergies. Could it be that it’s a coincidence, or are genetics to blame?

First, let’s begin with what an allergy actually is. An allergy is defined as an abnormal reaction to substances ordinarily harmless to most people. These substances are referred to as “allergens.” Allergens can be found indoors, outdoors and even in things that we eat.

Some of the most common allergy symptoms that people experience vary based on the type of allergen. For example, if you’re allergic to pollen, mold, animal dander and dust mites, you might find yourself sneezing, with nasal stuffiness, runny nose, itchy, watery and/or red eyes, itchy ears, and a scratchy throat. Additionally, sinus headaches, facial pain and coughs can also occur.

So you must still be wondering… how do you develop allergies and is it actually genetic? The answer: It is often hereditary as to whether or not we develop allergies, which means it can be passed down through genes from parents to their children. It’s important to note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that if you have allergies your child will also definitely develop allergies. Believe it or not, in some instances, a child will develop allergies that his or her parents don’t even have, or won’t develop allergies at all.

What’s important is to be aware of the allergies that you have, and to have your children tested for allergies if they have symptoms to determine the best approach for treating them. To diagnose allergies, a physician must obtain history from the patient and perform a physical examination. Allergy skin testing may also be performed to determine the actual cause of allergic symptoms. From there, a treatment plan is put in place that includes avoidance of the allergen, if possible, as well as medications to help control allergy symptoms.

Finally, allergen immunotherapy may be offered. Allergen immunotherapy is a natural non-drug treatment in which you are gradually desensitized to things that you are allergic to, resulting in fewer allergic symptoms and less medication use. Immunotherapy may be administered via an injection or as drops or tablets under the tongue.

At Certified Allergy, we offer five convenient locations throughout the Capital Region from Albany to Saratoga Springs to help diagnose and treat allergies. If you’re interested in making an appointment, please visit our website to choose the location that’s right for you!