Hay fever; Nasal congestion - allergies
The nose is separated into two passages by a wall of cartilage called the septum. The nasal passages are lined with a membrane that produces a clear liquid called mucus. Mucus is a one of the body's defense systems:
If the congestion becomes severe or other changes occur that irritate the nasal passage, rhinitis develops. Rhinitis is inflammation of the nasal passages. To be diagnosed with rhinitis, the patient must experience at least two of the following symptoms for an hour or more on most days:
These symptoms may occur as a result of colds or environmental irritants, such as allergens, cigarette smoke, chemicals, changes in temperature, stress, exercise, or other factors.
Infectious Rhinitis. If symptoms last fewer than 6 weeks, the condition is referred to as acute rhinitis and is usually caused by a cold or infection, or temporary overexposure to environmental chemicals or pollutants. [For more information, see In-Depth Report #94: Colds and the flu.]
Chronic Rhinitis. When rhinitis lasts for a longer period, the condition is called chronic rhinitis. Allergies are often the cause, but structural problems or chronic infections could also be to blame.
Allergic Rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis is rhinitis caused by allergens, which are substances that trigger an allergic response. Allergens involved in allergic rhinitis come from either outdoor or indoor substances. Outdoor allergens such as pollen or mold spores are usually the cause of seasonal allergic rhinitis (also called hay fever). Indoor allergens such as animal dander or dust mites are common causes of year-round allergic rhinitis.
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