Health Impact of Nasal Allergies

Posted April 26, 2017

Nasal allergy, or allergic rhinitis, is the 6th most common chronic disease in the U.S. It leads to millions of lost work and school days and billions of lost health care dollars each year.

Whether you have seasonal allergies or year-round symptoms, the health effects can significantly impair your sleep, work, cognition and quality of life. No wonder, considering the ongoing aggravations: congestion, heavy mucus drainage and swollen nasal cavity, leading to itchy nose, eyes and ears, as well as causing drowsiness, headache, earache and other discomforts.

Allergic rhinitis also triggers medical complications, including acute or chronic sinusitis, sleep apnea and ear problems. Many people with these allergies also suffer asthma and shortness of breath; the same airborne irritants that cause a nasal allergic reaction can also trigger asthma attacks.

Some people have symptoms throughout life, and some outgrow them, while others develop them as they age. But once a substance, such as pollen, causes allergies, it often continues to produce long-term effects.

First line of defense: Identify and avoid your allergy triggers. Work closely with your health care provider to determine the best prevention and treatment plan. Discuss prescription medications and their side effects. Over-the-counter steroid nasal sprays control inflammation and significantly reduce most symptoms. Antihistamines in liquids, pills or nasal sprays block histamine and ease some symptoms.