Everybody knows what allergies are. But what is allergic rhinitis?
Allergic Rhinitis Is Not The Same as Allergy
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Think of It as Rhino-Itis.You probably know that a rhino has a huge nose and any condition described with the suffix –itis has something do with inflammation. Rhinitis is inflammation of the (not necessarily huge) nose. Allergic rhinitis is inflammation of the nose caused by allergies, which are over-reactions of the immune system to substances that are ordinarily harmless, such as cat dander, ragweed pollen, and house dust.
Affects Sixty Million People Just in North America.Just in the United States and Canada, about sixty million people suffer sneezing, wheezing, itching, and runny nose caused by this all too common condition. While certain foods make allergic reactions stronger in many people who eat them (particularly foods like wheat, dairy products, and citrus), allergic rhinitis is primarily a reaction to airborne particles.
Most Airborne Particles Are Harmless.Even when the air is filled with pollen and dust, people who are prone to allergic rhinitis do not necessarily come down with itching, tearing, wheezing, and sneezing symptoms. This is because the nose is a great air filter on its own. Tiny hairs lining the nostrils capture an enormous number of invisible particles to keep them from getting into the rest of your upper respiratory tract.
But a Few Airborne Particles Are Enough to Make You Feel Really Miserable.The problem arises when the immune system becomes hypersensitive to a particular kind of particle of plant or animal origin. You don't get allergic rhinitis the very first time you are exposed to, say, cat dander. However, if your immune system is somehow coded to fight infections that "look" like cat dander on the molecular level, the next time you are exposed to cat dander it will be poised to defend you.
An allergy-provoking particle floats into your nose. If it doesn't have a tough outer coat, your immune system immediately identifies it as a potential toxin or infectious invader. The immune globulin recognizing the particle sends out messages for the production of inflammatory chemicals. These chemicals dissolve your nose's healthy tissues so the tiny, and usually harmless, particle can be swept away with mucus. Inflammation stuffs up your nose so the particle can't get deeper into your body.
Some particles don't cause allergies until they get past your nose. These particles have hard coats that have to be dissolved by digestive enzymes in your mouth and throat. Once their outer layer has been melted away, however, they too can cause allergic inflammation, just deeper down, in your throat and lungs.
How Do You Get Rid of Airborne Allergies?There may be as many as 1,000,000 allergenic particles in a single cubic centimeter of air. You take in about 200 cubic centimeters of air with every breath. As few as seven allergenic particles is enough to make you sneeze. How can you ever breathe easily?
The secret to stopping allergic rhinitis before it ever starts is a good HEPA air filter.
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