Search this site
website search icon link
Article Listings
Expand All | Collapse All
Active Living
Full Listing with story descriptions
A Healthy Balance
Ankle Sprains
Active Kids, Healthy Kids
Active Kids in Winter
Athletic Skin Infections
Children, Nutrition & Exercise
Beat the Heat!
Cold Weather Workouts
Concussions
Core Stability
Cross Country Skiing
Exercise and Disabilities
Exercise and Menstrual Irregularities
Exercise in the Cold
Exercise in the Heat
Exercise is Medicine
Exercise Options
Exercising in Pregnancy
Female Athletes
FITT Prescription
Footwear for Running
From Surviving to Thriving
Flexibility
Gadgets & Gizmos
Get Moving!
Get Motivated
Golf Exercises
Golf Injury Prevention
Head Injuries
Hockey Injuries
Home Gyms
Immunization
Jump Start Weight Loss
Knee Cap Pain
Knee Ligament Injuries
Live Actively
Low Back Pain
Osteoporosis & Exercise
Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis of the Knee
Plantar Fasciitis
Prehistoric Workout
Prevention of Sports Injury
Proprioception
Recreational Safety Equipment
Running
Safe Snow Shovelling
Shin Splints
Ski Conditioning
Shoes & Fit
Sore Elbow
Sore Shoulder
Spinal Cord Injuries
Staying Active
Staying Fit in the Cold
Sports Nutrition & Supplements
Strength Training
Swimming Injuries
Teen Sports Injuries
Walking
Water and Exercise
Weight Training
7 Wonders of Walking
Adolescent Health
Full Listing with story descriptions
Acne
Adolescent Behaviour Problems
Adolescent Growth & Development
Body Image
Body Piercing
Bullying
Chronic Diseases in Teens
Communications Skills
Concussion in Sport
Cosmetics & Skincare
Dangers of Artificial Tanning
Depression
Depression - Causes
Drug Use
Female Physical Exam
First Period
Internet Safety
Junior High
Mentoring to Quit Smoking
Mononucleosis
Parent-Teen Communication
Parent -Teen Interaction Patterns
Personal Care
Psychological Assessment
School Problems
Self Esteem
Self Esteem & Body Image
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Talking About Sex
Taking Chances
Tattoos
Teaching Respect
Teens & Smoking
Teenage Blues
Teen Bedwetting
Teen Drivers
Teen Girls
Teen Health
Teen Immunization
Teen Independence
Teen Rebellion
Teens & Divorce
Teenagers and Sexual Issues
Teens & Exercise
Water and Exercise
A Woman's Physical
Your First Job
Youth Violence
Ask the Doctor
Bone Density Testing
My Doctor Says I Need a Test
Childbirth
Full Listing with story descriptions
Advice from the Maternity Clinic
Advice from the Maternity Clinic (Part 2)
Alcohol in Pregnancy
Building a Better Baby
Birthing Etiquette
Birth Plans
Birthing Procedure Trends
Bleeding in Pregnancy
Breastfeeding Benefits
Caesarean Section by Request
Care for the New Mother
Cord Blood Banking
Delaying Motherhood
Blue after Baby or Postpartum Depression
Diabetes in Pregnancy
Eating Well for Pregnancy
Evolving Ideas about Pregnancy and Birth
Exercise in Pregnancy
Flying During Pregnancy
Folic Acid in Pregnancy
High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy
Getting a latch on breastfeeding
Group B Streptococcus
Induction of Labour
Infections During Pregnancy
Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)
In-Vitro Fertilization
Low Birth Weight Babies
Medication & Pregnancy
Miscarriage
Managing Your Own Labour
Monitoring Your Labour
Nausea & Vomiting in Pregnancy
Pain Relief in Labour
Prenatal Classes
Preterm Labour
Planning a Pregnancy
Pregnancy Weight
Prenatal Care Providers
Postpartum Repetitive Strain Injuries
RH Disease
Rupture of Membranes Before Labour
Sex During Pregnancy
Skin Changes in Pregnancy
Smoking and Pregnancy
Support During Labour
Travelling While Pregnant
Ultrasound for Fun & Photos
Natural Remedies in Pregnancy
Pregnancy Weight Gain
Vaccinations During Pregnancy
Vacuum & Forceps for Delivery
Vaginal Birth After Caesarean
When Baby Comes Home
Childhood
Full Listing with story descriptions
Asthma in Children
Attention Deficit Disorder
Babysitter
Bed Wetting
Chickenpox
Childcare Options
Children's Headaches
Childhood Obesity
Choosing A Babysitter
Circumcision
Colds & Flu
Common Childhood Skin Infections
Croup
Developmental Milestones
Diaper Rash
Daytime Wetting
Introducing Solid Foods
Developmental Co-ordination Disorder
Diarrhea
Discipline
Earache
Eczema
Feeding Your Baby
Feeding Your Toddler
Fever
Head Lice
Hearing
How Children Grow
Hearing Loss
Hearing Issues in Newborns
Heart Murmers
Hip Clicks
Influenza
Iron
Is it an Emergency?
Children and Sports Injuries
Lazy Eye (Amblyopia)
Learning Disabilities
Leg Problems
Not Just Baby Fat
Orthodontics
Preparing for Lab Tests
Recognizing Learning Disabilities
Red Rashes
RSV-Childhood Respiratory Virus
Safe Summer Fun
School
Scoliosis
Sick Toddler
Sleep Struggles
Sniffles, Fevers, Rashes & Coughs
Sore Throats
Speech Problems
Strep Throat
Toddler Safety
Thumbsucking
Tooth Injuries
Travelling with Children
Tummyache
Urinary Tract Infections
Vaccinations
Vaccination and Autism
When to go to the Doctor
Whooping Cough
Worried Sick
Yeast Infections in Children
Chronic Pain
Full Listing with story descriptions
Introduction
Managing Your Pain
Movement Matters
Moving Forward
Nutrition
Opioids
Pacing
Pain Medications
Prevention
Returning to Work
Understanding and Goal Setting
When Pain Doesn't End
Dental Health
Full Listing with story descriptions
Antibiotics and Dental Surgery
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby Teeth
Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Children's Dental Injuries
Choosing a Dentist
Cosmetic Dentistry
Mouth Guards
Dental Exam
Dental Care Devices
Dental Caries
Dental Care Offshore
Dental Implants
Dental X-Rays
Dentures and Healthy Jaw
Esthetic Dentistry
Fluoride
Fluoride Findings
First Dental Visit
Headaches
A Healthy Mouth
Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body
Jaw Joint and Muscle Problems
Keeping it Clean
Laser Use in Dentistry
Mouth Protection Equipment
Oral Cancer Screening
Oral Healthcare
Oral health and long term care
Oral Health Care Products
Orthodontics
Orthodontist First Visit
Painless Dentistry
Periodontal Disease
Removable Dentures
Root Canal
Seniors Oral Care
Sensitive Teeth
The Smile You Want
Sore Mouth, Aching Jaw
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Smiling through the Senior Years
Teeth for Life
Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)
Tobacco Risks to Oral Health
Tongue Piercing
Tooth Whitening
Travel Dentistry
Water Fluoridation
Wisdom Teeth
Your Healthy Smile
DIABETES
Full Listing with story descriptions
10,000 Steps
A1C Test
Accurate Blood Glucose Testing
Alchohol and Diabetes
A Diabetes Success Story
ABCs of Diabetes Management
Alternate Site Testing
Artery Health
ASA Therapy
Benefits of Insulin
Benefits of Breakfast
Blood Glucose Medications
Blood Glucose Myths
Blood Glucose Testing
Blood Glucose Testing Tips
Blood Sugar Lows
Blood Glucose Monitors
C-Peptide Testing
Canada Food Guide Revisited
Carbohydrate Counting
Catastrophic Drug Plan
CDA Guidelines for Diabetes
Celiac Disease and Diabetes
Celebrating Health
Childhood Diagnosis of Diabetes
Children and Type 2 Diabetes
Cholesterol-lowering Medications
Colds and Diabetes
Constipation
Continuous Blood Glucose Monitoring
Cutting Edge
Dangers of Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure
Debunking Diabetes Myths
Driving and Diabetes
Diabetes and Menopause
Diabetes and OTC Medications
Diabetes Care Team
Diabetes and Celiac
Diabetes and Depression
Diabetes Diet
Diabetes Distress
Diabetes Eating on a Shoestring Budget
Diabetes Etiquette
Diabetes and Oral Health
Diabetes and Thyroid Disease
Diabetes and Your Mouth
Diabetes and Your Eyes
Diabetes in Cats
Diabetes in Dogs
Diabetes Management ABCs
Diabetes Meter Technicians
Diabetes Myths
Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Diabetic Retinopathy
Diet Tips for South Asians
Dining Out
Drinking and Diabetes
The Discovery of Insulin
Eating Disorders
Easing the Strain of Stress
Eating to Protect Your Kidneys
Eating Well During Shift Work
Eggs in a Diabetic Diet
Emotional Eating
Emotions of Diabetes Diagnosis
Erectile Dysfunction
Exercise Excuses
Why Fad Diets Fail
Fats
Fibre
Fill Your Day with Energy
Financial Support for Diabetes
Food Temptation
Foot Care
Footwear and Foot Health
Fruits and Veggies
Gastroparesis
Gestational Diabetes
Get Active
Get Physical
Gift Ideas
Glucose Meters
Glycemic Index and Glycemic Loads
The Glycemic Index
Going Green in the Kitchen
Grocery Shopping Tips
Guidelines for Diabetes Management
Holiday Party Survival Guide
Health Information on the 'Net
Healthy Happy Holidays
Healthy Beverage Choices
Health Benefits of Soy
Healthy Restaurant Meals
High Blood Pressure and Diabetes
High Blood Pressure
HbA1c Test
Healthy Eating for Active People
High Blood Lipids
Home from the Hospital
Home Alone and Sick
Hypoglycemic Unawareness
Impaired Glucose Tolerance
Immunization & Diabetes
Incretins-a Hormone Treatment
Injecting Insulin
Insulin Discovery-The Story
Insulin
Insulin Handling
Insulin - the Key to Energy Management
Insulin Pumps
Insulin Pen Needles
Insulin Pump Infusion Sets
Insulin Pump Therapy
Immunization and Diabetes
Internet Health Sites
Islet Cell Transplantation
Insurance
Ketones
Kidney Disease - Reducing the Risk
Living with Diagnosis of Diabetes
Living Powerfully with Diabetes
Low Blood Glucose
Managing Diabetes
Managing Blood Glucose
Metformin
Nutrition Food Labels
Meal Planning
Your Medication Expert
Medication Research Studies
Metabolic Syndrome
Microalbuminuria
New Diabetes Technologies
Natural Medicines and Diabetes
No Need for Insulin?
Not Snoozing
Over-the-Counter Medications
Oral Health and Diabetes
Osteoporosis and Diabetes
Diabetes and OTC Medications
Pedicure Precautions
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Pet Diabetes
Planning for Pregnancy
Prebiotics and Probiotics
Preparing for Activity
Putting off Insulin
Reducing Stress of Surgery
Safe and Successful Travel
Schizophrenia and Diabetes
Sensible Snacking
Setting Health Goals
Setting Goals for Physical Activity
Sharps Disposal
Shorter Insulin Needles
Sleep - a Missing Link
Smart Snacking
Smart Summer Nutrition
Snack Bars
Snacking with Diabetes
Sodium
Social Media & Diabetes
Solving the Insurance Puzzle
Stress and Diabetes
Success in School
Supplements
Supporting Spouse with Diabetes
Sweeteners
Sugar, Carbs and Blood Glucose Control
Think Positive with Diabetes
Tiny Bites Equal Big Calories
Travelling with Diabetes
Tips for a Better You
Tobacco Use and Diabetes
Top 10 Reasons to Exercise
Treating Low Blood Glucose
Treating Hypoglycemia - Role of Glucagon
Tune up Your Diet
Type 1.5 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes
Understanding Diabetes
Understanding Diabetes Medications
Understanding Ketones
Used Sharps
Urinary Incontinence
Vacationing with Diabetes
Vegetarian Eating for Diabetes
Vitamin D
Walking
Wise Choices About Natural Medicines
Wonderful Water
Natural Medicines & Diabetes
World Diabetes Day
Your Medicine Cupboard
Zimbabwe Hand Jive
Family Medicine
Full Listing with story descriptions
ADHD in Children
Allergic Rhinitis
Allergies
Antibiotic Use
Arthritis
Aspirin Every Day?
Asthma
Back Pain
Back Pain Myths
Back Pain - Lower
Birth Control
Bladder Problems
Blood Transfusions
Breaast and Prostate Cancer Screening
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Check-Up
Colon Cancer Screening
Contact Lenses
Contraception
COPD
Cost of Doctor's Visit
Diabetes Management
Diarrhea
Diagnostic Tests
Do I Need a Bone Density Test?
Doctor Visit
Driving Vision
Dizziness
Dealing with Dry Eyes
Does My Sore Knee Require an MRI?
Do I Need an Annual Physical?
Eczema
Electronic Medical Records
Epilepsy
Eye Exam
Family Doctor
Fibromyalgia
Floaters and Flashes
Food Poisoning
5 Ways to Stay Healthy
Gallbladder
Get Active!
Glare
Headaches
Healthcare Teams
Heart Health
Hemorrhoids
Hepatitis C
Human Papilloma Virus
High Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure Risks
How to Talk to Your Doctor
Hypothyroidism
Insomnia
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Joint Replacement Surgery
Kidney Disease
Lazy Eye Blindness (Amblyopia)
Medical Digital Technology
Migraine
Meningitis
Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Myeloma
Obesity
Opioid Myths
Primary Healthcare Reform
Prostate Problems
Quitting Smoking
Red Eyes
Respiratory Tract Infections
Restore Your Core
Rosacea
Screening Tests
Shingles
Sinusitis
Special Diagnostic Tests
Stopping Stroke
Stroke
Superbugs
Thyroid
Ulcers
Urine Tests
Vaccination Controversies (ask the doctor)
Win by Losing
Urinary Tract Infections
Vision Flickers
First Aid
Full Listing with story descriptions
Bites and Stings
Burns
Choking
Cuts and Scrapes
Emergency Care Guidelines
Eye Injuries
Fainting and Convulsions
First Aid Travel Kit
Hypothermia and Frostbite
Nosebleeds
Poisoning - Household
Sunburn
Growing Older
Full Listing with story descriptions
Advance Care Plans
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Alzheimer Disease
Avoiding Memory Loss
Building Strength
Caring for the Caregiver
Cataracts
Can I see Well Enough to Drive?
Cholesterol
Congestive Heart Failure
Coping with Dementia
Constipation
Controlling Medications
C.O.P.D.
Delirium
Dementia and Agitation
Dizziness (Vertigo)
Eating Well
Elder Abuse
Exercise Benefits
Erectile Dysfunction
Eye Care
Eyesight and Driving
Feet
Frailty
Fungal Nail Infections
Get Active!
Glaucoma
Grief
Have Health, Will Travel
Health Tips for Seniors
Hearing
Incontinence
Joint Replacement
Lab Tests
Living Longer With Diabetes
Macular Degeneration
Male Menopause (Andropause)
Maintaining Quality of Life as You Age
Memory Loss
New Corneal Treatments
Nutrition for Seniors
Osteoarthritis
Osteoporosis
Parkinson Disease
Problem Gambling
Prostate Health
Retirement
Seniors and Medications
Senior Sexuality
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Screening Tests
Seniors and Driving
Sleeplessness
Skin Structure
Skin Protection
Skin Over 50
Solving Sleep Issues
Staying Healthy
Stroke Prevention
Travel Tips for Snowbirds
Wills and Personal Directives
Modern Living
Full Listing with story descriptions
Abuse
Acupuncture
Adult ADHD
Aging and Memory
Alcohol and Your Health
Anger Management
Antidepressants
Barbecue Basics
Bathtub Safety
Binge Drinking
Bisphenol A
Canada's New Blood System
Caring for a Loved One Dying at Home
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Computer Stress
Coping With Change
Cosmetic Surgery
Cosmetic Pesticides
Depression
Diabetes Epidemic
Discipline
Diseases from Pets
Downsizing
Dying at Home
Erectile Dysfunction New Treatments
Exotic Travel
Fertility Issues
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Foodborne Illness
Flu Pandemic
Grief
Harassment
Healing Through Music
Healthy Computing
Humidex
Hypnotherapy
Ice Safety
Indoor Air Quality
Lymphedema
Mature Student
Melamine in Food
Middle Age Health
Mind-Body Connection
Mom Time
Money Matters
Outdoor Workers and Sun Safety
Patient Safety in the Hospital
Pets and Health Benefits
Pet Therapy
Physiotherapy Visit
Planning for End of LIfe
Reproductive Freedom
Safe Drinking Water
Schizophrenia
Smokeless Tobacco
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Soy
Stigma of Mental Illness
Street Drugs
Stressed or Depressed?
Stress in the Workplace
Stress Leave
Swim to Survive
Sunburn
Sunglasses
Time Management
Travel Health Protection
Travel Comfort Tips
Travel Immunization
Understanding Change
Unplugging
Whiplash
Wind Chill Index
Workplace Drug Testing
Workplace Health
Nutrition
Full Listing with story descriptions
5 Tips to Manage Weight
10 Ways to Cut Down on Fat
Battle the Bulge
Boost Your Bone Strength
Body Image
Breakfast is Important
Bowel Health
Building Your Bones
Celiac Disease
Challenging the Milk Myth
Diet Reality Check
Drink Up!
Eating Smarter & Cheaper
Energy Drinks
Food Allergies
Food for Active Kids
Fast Food
Food Labels
Giving Up Gluten
Healthy Diet, Healthy Smile
Healthy Eating for Boomers and Zoomers
Healthy Eating for Seniors
Healthy Eating on Business Travel
Healthy Ethnic Meals
Fad Diets
Fruits & Veggies - 5-10 a Day
Fats
Fat Phobias
Fats & Cholesterol
Feeding Your Kids
Fibre
Food Chemistry 101
Food and Mood
Getting Kids to MOVE
Healthy Eating for Teens
Healthy Habits
Herbal Medicine and Nutrition
New Ingredients for Your Shopping Cart
Iron
Kid's Food
Liquid Candy
Meal Planning with Planned Overs
Mercury Levels in Fish
Night Snacking
Night Shift Eating
Nutrition on the Net
Nutrition Myths Busted
Nutrition Questions Top 5
Nutrition for Menopause
Essential Omega-3
Preventing Cancer Through Nutrition
Picky Eaters
Power of Fruits & Veggies
Portion Control
Power Lunch
PMS and Nutrition
Preparing for Surgery
Probiotics
Reducing High Blood Pressure
Replacement Meals
Sensible Snacking
Sodium
Sodium and Blood Pressure
Sports-Minded Nutrition
Sugar Substitutes
Survive and Thrive
Teen Nutrition
Tips for a SuperDiet
Understanding Food Biotechnology
Vacation Eating
Vitamins D
Vitamins and Minerals
Vegetarian Diet
Weight Loss
Weight Wise Tips
Pharmacy Care
Full Listing with story descriptions
After a Heart Attack
Adverse Drug Reactions
Adult Vaccinations
Allergy Attack
Antibiotic Overuse
New Anticoagulant Medications
Inhaled Asthma medications
Arthritis Medications
Biologics
Biological Response Modifiers
Blood Pressure Monitoring
Blood Thinners
Calcium and Iron Supplements
Changing Role of the Pharmacist
Children's Cold Remedies
Child's Fever
Choosing Sunscreens
Cold Relief
Cold Sores
Constipation and Haemorrhoids
Diuretics and Potassium Supplements
Drug Recalls and Withdrawals
Drug Interactions
Emergency Contraception
Erectile Dysfunction
Expanding Role of Pharmacies
Eye Protection - Sunglasses
Feminine Hygiene
Generic or Name Brand?
Heartburn
Heart Health
Insomnia
Kids and Cold Medications
Medication Questions?
Metabolic Syndrome
Natural Medicines
New Blood Thinners
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Obesity Medication
Over-the-Counter Drugs
Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
Over-the-Counter Drugs and Pregnancy
OTC Pain Relief
Packing Medications for Travel
Pharmaceutical Studies
Preventing Summer Hazards
Research Studies
Quit Smoking
Skin and Cosmeceuticals
Sports & Nutrition Supplements
Sunscreen
Taking Medication
Take as Directed
Using Antibiotics Wisely
Viagra
Vitamin D
Yeast Infections
Your Best Shot
Your Medicine Cupboard
Prevention
Full Listing with story descriptions
Accident Prevention
Alcohol
Antibiotic Resistance
Backpack Pain
Bacteria Fight Back
Bedbugs
Disaster Planning
Diseases from Pets
Caffeine
Cell Phones and Driving
Childhood Obesity
Cancer Prevention Tips
Chronic Disease Prevention
Cold and Flu Season
Disaster Planning
Diseases from Pets
Distracted Driving
E-cigarettes
Farm Safety for City Kids
Foodborne Illness
Flu Pandemic
The Flu and You
Heading Home for a Visit
Health Tips for Snowbirds
Hearing Loss and Music Players
H1N1 Virus - Plan Ahead
Household Mould
Infection Control
Injury Prevention
Live Actively!
Insect Repellant
Keys to Preventing Cancer
Kids' Mental Health
Live Actively!
Low Birth Weight
Meningitis
Norovirus
Are Pesticides Safe?
Preventing Burns and Scalds
Preventing Cancer through Nutrition
Quit Smoking 101
Respiratory Infections
Seniors and STIs
Should You Immunize?
Sun Safety
Surviving Disaster
Sushi Preparation
Teens, Drugs and Driving
Travel Health Considerations
Travel Medicine 101
Travel Tips
Type 2 Diabetes Prevention
Water Smarts
Vision Damage
Water Wisdom
West Nile Disease
Whooping Cough
Workplace Alcohol Abuse
Women's Health
Full Listing with story descriptions
15 Great Reasons to Breastfeed
Anemia
Approaching Menopause
Birth Control
Breast Cancer Screening
Breast Cancer - Genetic Risks
Breast Cancer Self-Exam
Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines Changes
Breast Health
Breastfeeding Myths
Cervical Cancer Screening
Contraception
Contraception for Mature Women
Cosmetic Procedures
Cystitis
Endometriosis
Estrogen's Effect on the Brain
Fear of Fracture
Fibroids
Heart Attack
Hirsutism - Unwanted Hair
Hormone Replacement Therapy
The IUD
Menopause - What Men Should Know
Menstrual Bleeding - Abnormal
Menstrual Bleeding - Heavy
Menopause
Menstruation Myths
Menstrual Pain
Third Generation Birth Control Pills
Osteoporosis
Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian Cysts
Oral Contraction (The Pill)
Pap Test
Premenstrual Syndrome
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Urinary Incontinence
Vaginitis
Varicose Veins
Viagra for Women
Yeast Infections
Your Pelvic Floor
Family Health Online / Pharmacy at Safeway
spacer   spacer pharmacy image pharmacy
Family Health Magazine - FAMILY MEDICINE

Allergic Rhinitis
Understanding and controlling a common condition

Allergic rhinitis involves a natural body response that is out of control. You may already be familiar with the symptoms – a drippy blocked nose, mouth breathing, aches in forehead and cheeks, perhaps a spouse who complains about your snoring. Over a quarter of people experience these problems – fortunately not most of the time, but often for several weeks every year. You may not have known you or your child had allergic rhinitis. However, once you recognize the signs, there are many ways to reduce the effects.

diagram - The SinusesWhy does it happen?

Our noses are designed to warm, moisten, and clean the air we breathe. Each side of the nose contains a slit-like cavity lined with a special skin rich in blood vessels. Warm blood under the surface heats air coming through the nose to body temperature. Glands in the skin release thin mucus. This evaporates to moisten the air and leaves a sticky substance to catch dust particles, like flypaper.

These changes to incoming air protect our lungs. Among the particles in the air are viruses and bacteria that can cause infections. The mucus in the nose catches them and uses immune (defence) system reactions to neutralize them. If one gets through the body’s defences, the lining of the nose swells, makes even more mucus, and creates a head cold. Fever also helps defeat infection. This process takes a few days, then the body returns to normal.

Allergic rhinitis involves an overactive immune system. Allergens trigger the swelling and mucus production response. Allergic triggers are often organic dusts in the air, which may come from:

On the prairies, dry air carries organic dusts a long way, especially when chinook winds are blowing. Different dusts dominate at different times of year. Some people react to only one or a few and get allergic reactions for only a short time each year (seasonal rhinitis). Others react nearly all year round (perennial rhinitis).

Sinusitis

An overactive immune system affects more than just the nose. The same skin that lines the nose also lines the sinuses. These air-filled holes in the bones of the head reduce head weight and help the voice resonate. (see diagram oppposite). They also produce the gas nitrous oxide, which seems to help our lungs work better

When nasal passages are inflamed by infection or allergy, so is the skin lining the sinuses. The sinuses also fill with fluid, which cannot escape because the narrow entrances are blocked too. This produces pain in the forehead and cheeks – the feeling of sinusitis. Sometimes sinuses further back in the head, under the brain, become blocked. It can be hard to distinguish the resulting heaaches at the top or back of the head, or on one side, from migraines.

Ear troubles

The Eustachian tubes lead from each ear to the back of the nose. They allow air to fill the ear cavity, so the middle ear works properly. The same special skin lines the Eustachian tubes and ear cavities. They can also fill with fluid and become blocked, leading to feelings of pressure in the ears.

Asthma

Allergic noses and asthma both have similar reactions, occurring in different parts of the air passages. They often occur together in the same person or in families.

How does an allergy feel?

The body’s allergic reaction makes us sneeze and feel itchy. Fluid runs from the nose. Swollen skin and thick fluid block breathing. If the reaction is minor, the fluid may dry to form crusts inside the nose. These are irritating, but removing them by picking the nose can cause nosebleeds. Sometimes the nose gets itchy. Children often rub their nose, in what we call the ‘allergic salute’. This often leaves a little crease across the nose just above the tip.

Many allergy sufferers breathe through the mouth. At night when we relax in sleep, the natural instinct is to breathe through the nose. The mouth then closes. Many people with allergic blocked nose wake up short of breath, then go back to sleep again after breathing through their mouth. This cycle of sleeping and waking disturbs sleep and is a type of sleep apnea. So, allergies can cause sleep apnea or make it worse.

Eye allergy

Many people also have an allergic response in their eyes. They get swelling and reddening of the conjunctiva (skin over the white of the eye and on the back of the eyelids).

How might allergic rhinitis affect me?

Allergic rhinitis can range from seasonal stuffiness, lasting a few weeks or months, to chronic year-round blockage and sinusitis. Sometimes it appears simply as a long cold, taking a few weeks to taper off each time. However, there is none of the fever that would indicate infection. Allergy symptoms may simply be an irritating cough with mucus in the back of the nose and throat, the so-called ‘post-nasal drip’ or ‘upper airway cough syndrome’.

A blocked nose or cough lasting more than a couple of weeks may be an allergic response, especially in those who also have asthma.

Sadly, there is no clear test to diagnose allergic rhinitis. Often the only way to diagnose it is to try treating it.

Table - Common Allergic Rhinitis DrugsTreatment

Interrupting the cause and treating symptoms are the main ways to deal with allergic rhinitis.
If possible, finding and reducing exposure to the cause is the best treatment. This works best when the cause is very specific. For instance, those who are allergic to cats or other certain animals can stay away from them. Keeping windows closed and using a highly efficient filter in the home air system can also reduce external dust problems.

Allergy injections can suppress the body’s reaction. However, this requires special diagnosis. Then, a serum must be developed and injected regularly for a long time. Some people find this very effective, especially for specific allergies. Others feel injections are more trouble than they are worth.

The table to the right shows the anti-allergy drugs readily available.

Antihistamine tablets are usually the first drugs used to treat allergic rhinitis. Older, less expensive types have decongestant action as well, so may work better. They may cause sleepiness, and so are best used at night. Newer types cause less sleepiness, and are good for use in the daytime. However, they cost more. These drugs can be bought without a prescription at a pharmacy.

Nasal sprays of surface-acting cortisone (steroid) drugs often help. As very little is absorbed, they are safe to use long-term at the usual dosage. These are prescription drugs, and more expensive than antihistamines. They are often only partly covered by drug plans. Steroid nasal sprays need to be used regularly for maximum benefit.

Cromoglycarte sprays may also be helpful, but they are short acting, so need to be used every few hours.

For eye allergy, eye drops of cromoglycate often help. Since this only lasts a short time, they must be used four times daily. Antihistamine eye drops like olopatadine, a prescription medication, are also useful for eye allergies.

These treatments can be used all the time by those with chronic allergies, or just when needed by those with seasonal allergies or continuing reactions to an infection. Using them regularly for at least a week may increase the effect.

Decongestants

While decongestants are useful for head colds, avoid using them for long-lasting problems like allergies. Decongestants come in as tablets containing pseudoephedrine, or as nasal sprays containing a variety of drugs.

Pseudoephedrine is related to the amphetamine group of drugs. It causes wakefulness and may increase blood pressure. The heart may also beat rapidly, especially in older people or those with heart disease or high blood pressure. In most provinces you must ask the pharmacist for pseudoephedrine products, since they are now kept behind the counter.

Decongestant nasal sprays work quickly but can create problems. After a few days, the sprays create a rebound effect that makes the original problem worse and need even more treatment. Using decongestant nasal sprays is not recommended for more than three days in a row.
Combination medication products

Pharmacy shelves hold many combination (all-in-one) products, which contain ingredients for more than one symptom. They usually contain variou combinations of an antihistamines, a decongestants, a pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and sometimes a cough medication, such as dextromethorphan (DM). These combinations are often effective as they treat a variety of symptoms all at once. However, choosing a combination product may mean you are taking some medicines to treat symptoms that you do not have. Any ingredient can cause side effects, even the ones you do not need. Since the same trade name is sometimes used for packages containing different combinations, read the small print carefully to see what you are getting. Remember too that combining combination products with other over-the-counter medications may double up on some ingredients.

Start by identifying what your specific symptoms are, then work out the best way to treat them. Often you can buy individual drugs, perhaps generic versions, at a much lower price than a combination product. If you are not sure which over-the-counter product to use, you can ask your pharmacist or your doctor for advice.

Treating sinus pain

Bacteria live both on the skin and inside the nose. These are adapted to living on human surfaces and seldom cause disease. Still, when we produce lots of fluid the bacteria can grow, especially in the sinuses or ear cavities where fluid cannot drain easily. When bacteria do grow, the body often reacts with leucocytes, cells that fight infection. When they die in the fight, they release coloured compounds that make mucus yellow or green.

Many people ask their doctors for antibiotics to treat sinus pain. These can help if there is a bacterial infection present. However, it is usually better to treat the underlying cause, most often allergy. Vigorous allergy treatment usually solves the problem without using (and overusing) antibiotics.

In extreme cases, sinus surgery is useful. However, it cannot stop the basic allergic reaction. Drug management is usually still needed.

The final word

Allergic rhinitis, while common and annoying, is treatable. Learn the signs and triggers that affect you, and treat them with the help of your family doctor and pharmacist.

More articles from this section
Article Listing
FAMILY HEALTH is written with the assistance of
Alberta College of Family Physicians
FAMILY HEALTH is written
with the assistance of
The College of Family Physicans of Canada
Alberta College of Family Physicians
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specified medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physician promptly. © Copyright 2015, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 2S6    [FM_FHc07]
Articles in the Family Medicine section of Family Health OnLine are sponsored by: Safeway ad
Articles in this section of
Family Health OnLine are sponsored by:
Safeway Ad