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Convenient Location

8054 Yonge St. Thornhill. Just south of the intersection of Yonge and HWY 7/407

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About Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is an immune system reaction to airborne allergens, causing inflammation in the nasal passages and leading to symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, congestion, and itching.


The prevalence of allergic rhinitis varies depending on the population studied, geographic location, and other factors.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), allergic rhinitis affects between 10% and 30% of adults worldwide, and up to 40% of children. In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 20% of the population suffers from allergic rhinitis.

The prevalence of allergic rhinitis appears to be increasing in many parts of the world. This trend has been attributed to factors such as increased exposure to allergens, changes in lifestyle and environmental factors, and genetic predisposition.

Types of allergic rhinitis

There are two main types of allergic rhinitis:

Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis: Also known as hay fever, this type of allergic rhinitis occurs primarily during certain seasons when pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds is released into the air. Symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis can include sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and nasal congestion. This condition is typically active in the spring and fall months.
Perennial Allergic Rhinitis: This type of allergic rhinitis can occur year-round and is caused by indoor allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold spores.

Symptoms of perennial allergic rhinitis can be similar to those of seasonal allergic rhinitis, but may also include coughing, sore throat, and fatigue.

Allergic rhinitis can also be classified as mild, moderate, or severe based on the frequency and severity of symptoms.

Additionally, some individuals may experience a more severe form of allergic rhinitis known as allergic rhinitis with conjunctivitis, which involves inflammation of both the nasal passages and the eyes.

Allergic rhinitis vs non-allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis and non-allergic rhinitis are two distinct conditions that affect the nose and cause similar symptoms. The key difference between the two is the underlying cause of inflammation in the nasal passages.

Allergic rhinitis is caused by an immune system reaction to specific allergens.

Non-allergic rhinitis, on the other hand, is caused by factors other than allergens, such as changes in temperature or humidity, exposure to irritants such as smoke or pollution, hormonal changes, certain medications, or structural abnormalities in the nasal passages.

Symptoms of non-allergic rhinitis can be similar to those of allergic rhinitis but may not involve itchy eyes or involve a different pattern of symptoms.

A doctor may perform tests to determine whether a person has allergic or non-allergic rhinitis. Treatment for allergic and non-allergic rhinitis may also differ, depending on the cause and severity of the symptoms.


Allergic rhinitis is caused by an immune system overreaction to allergens. When these allergens enter the body, the immune system produces an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE), which triggers the release of histamine and other chemicals in the body.

This leads to inflammation of the nasal passages, causing symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and itching.

Allergens are substances that trigger an allergic response in individuals with allergic rhinitis.

There are many different types of allergens that can trigger allergic rhinitis. Some of the most common allergens include:

Pollen: Pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds is a common trigger for seasonal allergic rhinitis (also referred to as hay fever).
Dust mites: These tiny insects are commonly found in household dust and can trigger year-round allergic rhinitis.
Animal dander: Skin flakes, hair, and feathers from pets such as cats and dogs can trigger allergic rhinitis in some individuals.
Mold: Mold spores can be found indoors and outdoors and can trigger allergic rhinitis symptoms.
Cockroaches: The feces, saliva, and body parts of cockroaches can trigger allergic reactions in some individuals.
Foods: Certain foods, such as peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, and eggs, can cause allergic reactions in some individuals that may include symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Insect stings: Bee and wasp stings can cause allergic reactions that may include symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

Identifying the specific allergens that trigger an individual’s allergic rhinitis is important in developing an effective treatment plan.

This may involve allergy testing to determine which allergens an individual is allergic to, and then avoiding or minimizing exposure to those allergens whenever possible.


The symptoms of allergic rhinitis can vary in severity and duration, depending on the type and amount of allergen exposure.

The most common symptoms of allergic rhinitis include:

• Sneezing
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Itchy nose, throat, and eyes
• Watery eyes
• Postnasal drip
• Sinus pressure or pain
• Fatigue
• Headache
• Decreased sense of smell or taste

Some people with allergic rhinitis may also experience asthma symptoms, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing, especially if they have a history of asthma.

The symptoms of allergic rhinitis typically occur soon after exposure to an allergen and may last for several hours or days, depending on the individual and the severity of the reaction.

However, in some cases, symptoms can develop later, especially if the allergen exposure is ongoing or the person is highly sensitive to the allergen.

Symptoms that develop later may include:

• Fatigue
• Difficulty concentrating
• Irritability
• Insomnia
• Chronic cough
• Sore throat
• Earache or ear infections
• Sinus infections

These symptoms are typically the result of chronic inflammation of the nasal passages, sinuses, and throat due to ongoing exposure to allergens. In some cases, they can also be a side effect of medications used to treat allergic rhinitis, such as nasal steroids.

It is important to note that the symptoms of allergic rhinitis can also be similar to those of non-allergic rhinitis, which can make it challenging to diagnose the condition.

A doctor can perform tests to identify the underlying cause of the symptoms and develop an appropriate treatment plan.


There are several methods used for diagnosing allergic rhinitis. These may include:

Medical history: Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, any triggers that seem to make them worse, and your family history of allergies or other related conditions.
Physical exam: Your doctor will examine your nose, throat, ears, and eyes to look for signs of inflammation and other possible causes of your symptoms.
Skin prick test: A small amount of allergen is introduced to the skin with a needle or lancet. If you are allergic to the allergen, your skin will become red and itchy at the site of the test.
Blood test: A blood sample is taken and tested for the presence of specific antibodies (IgE) that are produced in response to allergen exposure.
Nasal smear: A sample of your nasal discharge is examined under a microscope to look for signs of inflammation and increased eosinophils, a type of white blood cell often associated with allergic reactions.
Allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) testing: A blood test that measures the level of IgE antibodies specific to various allergens.


The treatment for allergic rhinitis depends on the severity of symptoms and the underlying cause. The primary goal of treatment is to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of allergic rhinitis and to improve the patient’s quality of life.

Some common treatments for allergic rhinitis include:

Allergen avoidance: Avoiding exposure to allergens that trigger allergic rhinitis can be an effective way to manage the condition. This may include staying indoors during high pollen counts, using air purifiers or HEPA filters, and avoiding pets or other allergens that cause symptoms.
Medications: Over-the-counter or prescription medications may be used to manage symptoms of allergic rhinitis, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal corticosteroids. These medications can help relieve congestion, itching, sneezing, and runny nose.
Immunotherapy: Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, can help reduce sensitivity to allergens over time by gradually exposing the patient to increasing doses of the allergen. This can help reduce the severity of symptoms or even eliminate them altogether.
Alternative therapies: Some people find relief from their allergic rhinitis symptoms with alternative therapies such as herbal supplements, acupuncture, or nasal irrigation. However, it’s important to discuss any alternative therapies with a healthcare provider before trying them.

What we do at WMC

The Wilderman Medical Clinic includes an allergy testing clinic, offering several different options for testing, including:

• Skin prick testing
• Blood testing
• Patch testing

These tests allow patients to identify allergens that they are sensitive to.

With this information, some people are able to manage their condition effectively by avoiding the identified allergens; however, others may elect to undergo immunotherapy treatments for their allergies.

These injections involve systematic exposure to small amounts of an identified allergen in order to desensitize the immune system to the allergen, thereby reducing the allergic reaction.

Treatments offered at WMC include:

• Avoidance counseling
• Immunotherapy treatments


How to manage your condition:


• Identify and avoid allergens that trigger your symptoms
• Use air conditioning and keep windows and doors closed during the pollen season
• Keep indoor air clean and dry using an air purifier or dehumidifier
• Use a saline nasal spray or rinse to keep nasal passages moist and reduce inflammation
• Take allergy medications as directed by your healthcare provider
• Keep your home clean and free of dust, mold, and pet dander
• Wear a mask when doing yard work or other activities that may expose you to allergens


• Don’t smoke or allow smoking in your home
• Don’t rely on over-the-counter medications without first consulting with a healthcare provider
• Don’t ignore symptoms or delay seeking treatment
• Don’t touch or rub your eyes or nose, as this can make symptoms worse
• Don’t use nasal decongestant sprays for more than a few days, as they can cause rebound congestion

It’s important to note that these are general guidelines and may not apply to everyone with allergic rhinitis. It’s always best to consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice and treatment recommendations.

Works cited

Wheatley LM, Togias A. Clinical practice. Allergic rhinitis. N Engl J Med. 2015 Jan 29;372(5):456-63. doi: 10.1056/NEJMcp1412282. PMID: 25629742.

Kakli HA, Riley TD. Allergic Rhinitis. Prim Care. 2016 Sep;43(3):465-75. doi: 10.1016/j.pop.2016.04.010. PMID: 27545777.

Skoner DP. Allergic rhinitis: definition, epidemiology, pathophysiology, detection, and diagnosis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001 Jul;108(1 Suppl):S2-8. doi: 10.1067/mai.2001.116918. PMID: 11449281.

Min YG. The pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment of allergic rhinitis. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2010 Apr;2(2):65-76. doi: 10.4168/aair.2010.2.2.65. PMID: 20358094; PMCID: PMC2840900.

Chauhan BF, Chartrand C. Allergic Rhinitis. [Updated 2022 Mar 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan. Available from: PMID: 30725870

NHS. Allergic rhinitis (hay fever). [Updated 2021 Feb 22]. Available from:

MedlinePlus. Allergic rhinitis. [Updated 2021 Jan 4]. Available from:

Cleveland Clinic. Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever). [Updated 2021 Apr 28]. Available from:


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