Nasal Allergies

Nasal allergies—or allergic rhinitis--are very common. Some patients suffer from allergies only at certain times of the year (seasonal). Others can be affected all year round (perennial).

Nasal allergies usually cause nasal tissue to swell causing air passages to become narrower making the nose feel stuffed up. The nose may also make extra mucus, which can plug the nasal passages or drip out of the nose or down the back of the throat (postnasal drip).

Causes of Nasal Allergies

A nasal allergy is a reaction to a substance called an allergen including:

  • Grass and weeds
  • Wind-borne pollen
  • Mold
  • Dust mites
  • Furry and feathered animals
  • Cockroaches

Symptoms of Nasal Allergies

  • Runny nose with clear, watery discharge
  • Stuffy nose
  • Complaints of post-nasal drip (from the nose down the back of the throat)
  • Sneezing
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Itchy nose, eyes, ears or throat
  • Plugged-up ears (ear congestion)
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Sinus pain and swelling
  • Headache

Other health problems can cause symptoms like those of nasal allergies. These include:

  • Non-allergic rhinitis and viruses such as colds
  • Irritants and pollutants, such as strong odors or smoke
  • Certain medications

Each individual experiences symptoms differently, and symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your otolaryngologist for diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosis of Nasal Allergies

Your otolaryngologist will diagnose your condition based on your symptoms and physical examination as well as specific testing for allergies.

Learn more about diagnostic testing for allergies.

Treatment for Nasal Allergies

Effective treatment for nasal allergies includes:

  • Allergy avoidance strategies
  • Oral and intranasal antihistamines
  • Intranasal steroid sprays
  • Nasal saline rinses
  • Immunotherapy (performed by an allergist)

What You Should Expect

You will receive a thorough diagnostic examination to evaluate if you have nasal allergies and determine what course of treatment is needed. Careful monitoring and the involvement of an experienced otolaryngologist are important to the successful outcome for patients with ear, nose and throat disorders and conditions.

Multidisciplinary Care

Brigham and Women’s Hospital provides a multidisciplinary approach to patient care by collaborating with colleagues who have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating ear, nose and throat disorders and conditions. In addition, patients have full access to BWH’s world-renowned academic medical community, with its diverse specialists, and state-of-the-art facilities.

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