Looking into this disease: Allergic Rhinitis

Written by:

Levangel C. Sta. Lucia-Gregorio MD, DFM

Family and Community Medicine Physician

Have you experienced that after cleaning your room, you begin to have nasal itching, sneezing, nasal discharges then later on developed an itchy, pink and teary eyes? If you answer yes to this question, you might be experiencing this condition-Allergic rhinitis or hay fever. This disease affects 20 percent of Filipinos according to the 2008 Nutrition and Health survey.[1]

Allergic rhinitis is a condition in which the nasal membranes are inflamed due to an exposure to an allergen that resulted in an allergic reaction.[2] An allergen is a substance that causes allergic reaction.[3]
Examples of allergens include pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds, dust mites, cockroaches, animal dander and fungi or molds.[4]

Allergic rhinitis is a disease that falls under the category of Allergies. Allergy is a common chronic condition in which the immune system is introduced to a foreign irritant that overreacts by producing antibodies. Allergies cause 3.8 million missed work and school days each year. Due to climate change, scientists are seeing 2 main changes to allergy seasons: allergy season length is longer and pollen levels are increasing.[5]

The causes of this disease are multifactorial. A person who has a family history of allergic diseases makes the diagnosis more likely because Allergic rhinitis has a significant genetic component. Environmental and occupational exposures are also possible causes because of the specific allergic triggers present such as ordinary perennial allergens (e.g. mites, molds, pet dander) or unique occupational allergens (e.g. laboratory animals, animal products, grains, and organic materials, wood dust, latex, enzymes).[2]

The primary signs and symptoms of AR include:

  • Nasal itching
  • Sneezing
  • Rhinorrhea
  • Nasal congestion
  • Post nasal discharge

Other symptoms include:

  • With or without nasal congestion or obstruction
  • Conjunctival redness or eye redness
  • Eye itchiness
  • With or without Teary eyes
  • Frequent throat clearing
  • Palatal itching
  • Impaired sense of smell and (taste)
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired concentration
  • Reduced productivity[6]

The symptoms can be classified as either intermittent or persistent. Intermittent AR refers to symptoms of less than four days a week or less than 4 consecutive weeks. Persistent AR refers to symptoms occurring for more than 4 days a week and for more than 4 weeks.[6]

Allergic rhinitis can be managed by avoiding or minimizing exposure to allergens. There should also be environment control strategies in the home, workplace, etc. Nasal saline irrigation or douching is also recommended.[6] Increasing the oral fluid intake can also help to loosen the secretions.

People who are experiencing the above symptoms should seek medical consultation right away. If not diagnosed or treated immediately, allergen exposure can make people to be more vulnerable to viruses like the common cold and COVID-19 by inflaming the respiratory system.[7]

For the pharmacologic management, the triple action of Phenylephrine hydrochloride (nasal decongestant) plus Chlorphenamine maleate (antihistamine) and Paracetamol (anti-pyretic/analgesic) will help relieve the symptoms of Allergic rhinitis. The Phenylephrine hydrochloride will relieve the symptoms of nasal congestion. The Chlorphenamine maleate will relieve the eye, nose, and throat itchiness. While the Paracetamol will relieve the pain, headache and fever especially if the Allergic rhinitis will lead to secondary bacterial infection. Moreover, the intranasal corticosteroid is the other pharmacologic management that is used for this condition.[6] But it is better that you seek consultation with your doctor so that you will be diagnosed accurately and thus be managed appropriately.

The season here in the Philippines is affected by climate change. Hence, it is important to prevent diseases by strengthening the immune system through a healthy lifestyle. Living a healthy, holistic and reduced stress-free lifestyle includes (NEWSTART): 1) good Nutrition; 2) proper Exercise (at least 30 minutes three or four times per week); 3) drinking 6-8 glasses of Water each day; 4) exposure to Sunshine for at least 15 minutes per day; 5) having Temperance; 6) exposure to fresh Air; 7) having adequate Rest and sleep each day of six to seven hours minimum and; 8) Trust in the Divine Power.[9]


1. Abon J.M., Kwong S.L., Alava H.D., Castor M.A., De Leon J.C. (2012). Prevalence of allergic rhinitis in Filipino adults based on the National Nutrition and Health Survey 2008. Asia Pacific Allergy, 2 (2), 129-135. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from https://doi.org/10.5415/apallergy.2012.2.2.129..

2. Jean, Tiffany, Ziyar Ahdad. Allergic Rhinitis. (February 14, 2023). Medscape. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/134825-overview#a1

3. Medline Plus Medical. Retrieved November 16, 2023, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002229....

4. DeShazo, R.D., Corren, J., Feldwer, A.M. (October 2023) Allergic rhinitis: Clinical manifestations, epidemiology and diagnosis Uptodate. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/allergic-rhitis-clinical-manifestations-epidemiology-and-diagnosis#topicContent.

5. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from https://www.apha.org/-/media/Files/PDF/topics/climate/Asthma_Allergies.ashx.

6. Philippine Academy of Rhinology. Allergic Rhinitis in Adults Clinical Practice Guidelines. Retrieved November 16, 2023, from https://pso-hns.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Clinical-Practice-Guidelines-PSOHNS2016.pdf

7. Samantha Harrington. (April 19, 2023) ‘In every breath we take’: How climate change impacts pollen allergies. Yale climate change connections. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from https://yaleclimateconnetions.org/2023/04/in-every-breath-we-take-how-climate-change-impacts-pollen-allergies/.

8. Nasatapp Flu Patient Information leaflet

9. Ashley, G. and Cort, M. (October/November 2011). Stressed-out Faculty may need a NEWSTART. The Journal of Adventist Education. Retrieved November 18, 2023 from https://circle.adventist learningcommunity.com/files/jae/en/jae201174012905.pdf.