Allergic rhinitis is common, affecting all age groups, between 10 to 30 percent of adults and up to 40 percent in children and adolescents. This prevalence is higher than skin allergies and asthma.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that around 400 million people worldwide suffer from allergic rhinitis.
Those who suffer from this may experience mild to moderately severe symptoms, such as runny nose, nasal obstruction, sneezing, and itchiness that makes it very bothersome.
Making it more worrisome, allergic rhinitis can be aggravated by co-morbidities such as asthma, atopic dermatitis, conjunctivitis, sinusitis, polyposis, upper respiratory tract infection, and otitis media, which may render a person unable to conduct daily life normally.
As a consequence, this may lead to poor quality of life, sleep disorders, and learning and attention impairment.
To help people with allergic rhinitis, common nasal allergy, which according to the WHO affects 1 in 5 Filipinos, a webinar series was launched. The sessions are aimed at providing clarity on the causes of allergy and how it can be properly managed, hence the event name “Live With Clarity.”
The first of a three-part series started on June 5 with Dr. Natividad A. Almazan, the Head of the Research and Development Office at the Manila Central University College of Medicine & Hospital and a fellow of the Philippine Society of Otolaryngology.
The “Live With Clarity” webinar series also provides awareness on common allergens that trigger allergic rhinitis and how to reduce the risk of exposure from them.
Pollens are among the ubiquitous allergens with their presence in grasses and flowers, while dust mites are another common type found at home.
Environmental pollution caused by vehicles running on fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and sulfur dioxide that increase the level of toxins in the air.
Likewise, pet animals like dogs or cats may be a trigger for some. Types of seafood, spicy food, cosmetics, and topical products could also cause allergy. Family history also contributes to the chances of people getting allergic rhinitis.
According to Dr. Almazan, only specialists can properly diagnose whether a patient is suffering from allergic rhinitis or not.
This is typically done by conducting a standard skin prick test done on the patient’s arm. Sterile needles are used to introduce suspected allergens and then the doctor evaluates the skin reaction after 15 to 30 minutes.
Dr. Almazan stressed that the first step to the treatment of allergic rhinitis is avoidance of triggers.
Also, as a habit, people prone to allergic rhinitis should observe general sanitation—ensuring regular house cleaning and changing of beddings and draperies to prevent dust mites from accumulating. Often, the cause of asthma is the same as that of allergic rhinitis.
For a long time, patients who take oral antihistamines to manage allergic rhinitis feel drowsy or groggy after a short period due to the sedative effects of this medication, which is a common side effect from first or older generation antihistamines.
In most cases, whether intermittent or persistent allergic rhinitis, the mainstay treatment is second-generation oral antihistamines. These are considered as non-sedating medication that can be taken in the morning and will not cause drowsiness for an average person who starts the day heading to work.
“Based on a survey on preference for treatment of allergic rhinitis, people prefer the medication targets the symptoms that accompany the condition, has fast action relief, minimal adverse effects, non-habit forming, and long-lasting,” said Dr. Almazan.
Claritin is a second-generation antihistamine that meets the criteria on what medication is preferred by patients.
Depending on the severity of the allergy, the doctor may prescribe other medications like intranasal corticosteroids (INCS), leukotriene receptor antagonist, decongestants and immunotherapy.
“These medications and treatment approaches have to be monitored, so you have to consult with your doctor and avoid self-diagnosis,” said Dr. Almazan stressing that all the information should not replace consultation with doctors.
The “Live With Clarity” series will continue with sessions to focus on allergies in the elderly on July 3 and children & adolescents on July 13.
Those interested can check out their schedules at Claritin Philippines’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/claritinphilippines/.