“Allergic rhinitis” is the medical term for allergy affecting the mucous membrane of the nose. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is often called hay fever, while year-round nasal allergy is called perennial allergic rhinitis.
People with allergic rhinitis often feel that their problem is sinus trouble, though as described below the sinuses become secondarily involved due to the nasal swelling.
Most people develop allergic rhinitis before age 40, though it can come on at any age. An estimated 13 million Americans suffer from hay fever.
Symptoms: Allergic rhinitis can cause many symptoms, including stuffy nose, postnasal drip, sneezing, red/itchy and watery eyes, swollen eyelids, itching of the mouth/throat/ears and face, sore throat, dry cough, feelings of fullness and buzzing in the ears, partial loss of the senses of hearing, smell, and taste, and headaches. Seasonal allergic rhinitis can cause more general symptoms, such as fatigue.
Persons with allergic rhinitis often have dark circles under their eyes. This is due to pooling of blood upstream from the congested nasal area. To relieve an itchy nose, children, especially, may develop the habit of pushing the nose up with the palm of the hand. After a few years, this can cause a crease to appear across the nose. Also, the mid-part of the nose may broaden from the pressure of swollen tissue underneath. The mouth may be open continually so the person can breathe better. Children may develop a variety of other mannerisms, which parents find annoying, but which are caused by allergies.
Symptoms classically occur in the spring (tree and grass pollen) or summer/fall (weed pollen), but here in Florida the pollinating seasons are much longer. Grass pollen, for instance is present nearly year round. Symptoms due to outdoor mold are worse in the fall, whereas house dust, indoor molds and animal dander produce year round problems.