What is Allergic Rhinitis (AR)? An introduction

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Respiratory

Respiratory

What is Allergic Rhinitis (AR)? An introduction

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Allergic Rhinitis is commonly known as hay fever. It is an allergic disorder caused due to the reaction of our body when it comes in direct contact with things called allergens. The symptoms include sneezing, coughing, itching (mostly in eyes, mouth, throat, nose, and skin), runny/stuffy nose, headache, sore throat, etc. This disorder develops when the immune system of our body becomes overly sensitive and reacts to something that is in the environment and generally not harmful to people. There are mainly two forms of allergic rhinitis.


A) Seasonal AR (Hay Fever): This can be caused by allergy to pollen grains or mould spores in the air. When pollens are carried by air in spring, late summer or in fall then people might come in contact with them and start showing symptoms of rhinitis.  

B) Perennial AR: This is not seasonal as it can be caused by more common allergens in the air like dust, smoke, dust mites, pet hair or dander. These allergens are found in the air all year long and thus become chronic or happen frequently to people. 

Types of Allergens

The allergens are mainly divided into 3 categories:

Outdoor allergens

These allergens are commonly found outdoors and include pollens from grass, weeds and trees. These allergens can travel with the wind and are generally seasonal. Mostly these are responsible for causing hay fever. 

Indoor allergens

These are generated from household activities or things. Common examples include pet hair or fur, dandruff, dust mites or mould. These can cause chronic allergic rhinitis.

Apart from the allergens mentioned above, there is another category known as irritants. These are particle which causes irritations in the body parts they come in contact with like eyes, nose and lungs. Irritants, like cigarette smoke, exhaust from vehicles, perfume and aerosols are common irritants found in the environment.

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Allergic Rhinitis in Malaysia

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The type of AR that is prevalent in Malaysia is mainly perennial AR as Malaysia doesn't have large grasslands that can cause an increase in seasonal allergens. According to a study, 72 out of 90 patients in Malaysia were found to be sensitive allergens similar to dust mites or HDM in the skin prick test. Apart from HDM, Malaysians also found to be allergic to cat’s fur(37.8%), egg white(17.8%) and egg yolk(17.8%). This constituted exactly 80% of the sample population. It was found that most of the Malaysians were allergic to more than one allergens.
The studies showed that people generally show similar symptoms around the world and thus,
a common method of prevention and reducing the effect of AR can be introduced.

The treatment of Allergic rhinitis involves proper management of symptoms and keeping yourself away from allergens. Identifying the things that induce allergies is the first step and then you can take appropriate actions to avoid them. Medicinal aid prescribed by certified professionals can be taken if the symptoms become chronic and start hampering your lifestyle. With some changes in lifestyle coupled with medicinal aid, AR can be managed easily and you can lead your life normally.