R. Morgan Griffin is a full-time freelance writer and editor
living in Easthampton, MA. In addition to his feature articles for WebMD,
he's written stories for magazines and web sites such as Us Weekly,
Intelihealth.com, and GayHealth.com. He has a master's in English from
the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
One in 5 adults in the U.S. has nasal allergies, or allergic rhinitis. Yet as common as it is, too many people dismiss it.
“Allergic rhinitis is a trivialized disease,” says Jonathan A. Bernstein, MD, an allergist at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. “Obviously, nobody dies from it. But it does cause a tremendous amount of sickness and suffering.”
For people with allergies and asthma, sometimes the very air they breathe can be bad for their health. That’s because a variety of pollutants in our air -- collectively called smog -- can aggravate asthma and allergy symptoms, leaving people with these conditions struggling to breathe.
All that sneezing, congestion, and tearing up takes a toll. Allergic rhinitis can cause missed workdays, and it can make it harder to do your usual schoolwork or job if you’re able to show up. Because of this, allergic rhinitis costs the U.S. billions of dollars every year.
Nasal allergies can also lead to other conditions such as sinus problems. But they don’t have to.
“Allergic rhinitis is a treatable problem,” Bernstein says, “and when people get diagnosed and treated properly, they do very well.” If your nasal allergies get the better of you, it’s time to get back in control.
Nasal Allergies and Sinus Problems
Allergy symptoms are bad enough on their own. But in many people, allergic rhinitis can cause or worsen other complications or conditions.
What’s the connection between allergies and sinus problems?
Sinuses are hollow pockets in the skull that are connected to the nasal passages. When allergies trigger swelling in the mucous membranes, the inflamed tissue can block off the sinuses. The sinuses can’t drain, trapping mucus and air inside. That leads to pain and pressure.
Heed Your Allergy Symptoms
Despite the misery of allergies and their complications, many people don’t take the symptoms very seriously.
They don’t realize the impact that their allergies have on their lives, especially when added up over years and decades, says Leonard Bielory, MD, an allergy and immunology professor at Rutgers University.
They get used to the congestion, chronic sinus problems, and mouth breathing. They get used to disturbed sleep and fatigue. After a while, they just don’t remember what life was like before allergies.
When symptoms get bad, they make do. They grab over-the-counter medicines at random at the drugstore. They make guesses at the cause of their allergies and try to avoid the things they think are their triggers. But they never actually get a diagnosis.
There’s a better way. Given the impact that nasal allergies can have on your life, you really need to get proper medical evaluation and treatment.