And for some, these symptoms can last all year round
Allergic Rhinitis, commonly referred to as Hay Fever which causes swelling and inflammation in the nose, can severely affect a person’s quality of life1.
Dr Ahmed Ismail Manjra, a Paediatrician and Allergologist from Westville Hospital in Durban, says that he prefers using the term Allergic Rhinitis rather than Hay Fever as this is, in fact, an allergic disease.
According to the Allergy Foundation South Africa, persistent and uncontrolled Allergic Rhinitis has been shown to limit children’s ability to learn and impede adult’s opportunity to work to the best of their ability1. Like with other allergies, Allergic Rhinitis develops when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something within the environment that might cause no effect at all in other people2.
Symptoms are predominantly found in the nose itself, with itching, a blocked or runny nose, sneezing or a post nasal drip being most common. Other symptoms affecting other parts of the body can also include itchy eyes, ears or palate, red eyes, sore throat, coughing, irritability and lack of sleep1.
Dr Manjra says that unlike in the Northern Hemisphere where they are termed as specific seasonal allergies due to their distinct pollen seasons, Allergic Rhinitis in South Africa is generally termed as intermittent or persistent, with persistent Allergic Rhinitis being the most common.
Outdoor allergens include pollens from grass, trees and weeds and indoor allergens include pet hair, dust mites and mould2.
South Africans living with Allergic Rhinitis in the more central regions of South Africa such as Gauteng and the Free State are generally more likely to suffer from grass pollen allergies, with a pollen season that unfortunately due to our temperate climate, lasts from September through to April, giving sufferers only a possible small reprieve during the colder winter months. Dr Manjra explains that coastal allergy sufferers are often more prone to house dust mites, mould and pet allergies which are most certainly persistent with symptoms lasting the whole year through.
Symptoms of those suffering from dust mite allergies are usually worse in humid coastal areas where the house dust mite levels are high, with symptoms also becoming worse indoors and at night because the dust mites are more likely to live in warm mattresses and bedding1.
According to the World Allergy Organization, Allergic Rhinitis currently affects between 10 and 30 percent of the population globally with prevalence rates increasing3.
Dr Manjra agrees that like other allergies, Allergic Rhinitis seems to be on the increase but this could be attributed to a variety of factors including something as simple as population growth. Other factors could include industrialisation, our changing diets, more people moving from rural to urban areas and increased air pollution.
Dr Manjra stresses that food allergies are not related to Allergic Rhinitis at all. Allergic Rhinitis is termed an inhalant allergy and can be very accurately diagnosed by your doctor with a simple and inexpensive skin or blood test.
Some sufferers can take action to decrease the triggers that cause their allergies. Indoor allergy sufferers can use special “mite-proof” bedding and dehumidifiers to control mould, and can wash hands after petting an animal. For outdoor allergy sufferers, this is more difficult but some measures could include wearing glasses or sunglasses to keep pollen out of the eyes and keeping windows closed during high pollen periods2.
Unfortunately, according to the Allergy Foundation South Africa, many sufferers do not seek help as they simply get used to living with these symptoms1. Dr Manjra says that there are treatments available that have well-established efficacy and safety profiles.
These include nasal sprays which are suitable for everyday use. One such treatment is Allerguard which is safe for use in children and helps to prevent sneezing and itchy, runny or blocked noses. In fact Allerguard, which is available at all leading pharmacies, has recently been added to the Allergy Foundation South Africa (AFSA) list of approved products as part of their Seal of Approval Programme4. All products listed on this website have been shown to be efficient in reducing allergens from the environment or the products have significantly reduced allergen or chemical content in accordance with the AFSA Certification4.
Dr Manjra explains that antihistamines are also a suitable treatment option which can bring great relief to sufferers, especially as an add on treatment when symptoms persist after using a nasal spray.
There are a variety of effective non sedative options, including a novel new antihistamine from Inova which is also available at pharmacies.
Dr Manjra is very excited about the treatment area of immunotherapy which involves the long term desensitizing of patients to their particular allergen by using injections or drops under the tongue. While this can take anywhere between three and five years, this treatment can be very effective in altering the nature of the disease.
Speak to your doctor or pharmacist for more information about novel, effective and well established treatments to alleviate debilitating symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis. Go to http://www.allergyfoundation.co.za/ for more information.
DISCLAIMER: This editorial has been commissioned and brought to you by iNova Pharmaceuticals. This editorial has content that includes independent comments and opinions from independent healthcare providers and are the opinions and experiences of that particular healthcare provider which are not necessarily that of iNova Pharmaceuticals. Content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice.
For more information, speak to your healthcare professional. Further information is available on request from iNova Pharmaceuticals. Name and business address: iNova Pharmaceuticals (Pty) Ltd. Co. Reg. No. 1952/001640/07. 15E Riley Road, Bedfordview. Tel. No. 011 087 0000. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional. IN2684/18
- Allergic Rhinitis – Allergy Foundation South Africa (http://www.allergyfoundation.co.za/patient-information/en/allergic-diseases/allergic-rhinitis/) (Website accessed on 25 January 2018)
- Allergic Rhinitis Overview –American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (http://acaai.org/allergies/types/hay-fever-rhinitis) (Website accessed on 25 January 2018)
- Pawankar et al. World Allergy Organization – WAO White Book on Allergy. Prevalence of Allergies. 2011
- AFSA list of approved products– Allergy Foundation South Africa (http://www.allergyfoundation.co.za/approved-products/) (Website accessed on 25 January 2018)