According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), allergic rhinitis affects nearly one-third of the global population. Symptoms such as itchy eyes or nose, nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing, and throat irritation often affect the daily lives of patients, who may mistake the effects for a cold.
The Woman Post | Ayda María Martínez Ipuz
Escucha este artículo
According to the Cross-Sectional Survey on the Prevalence of Allergic Rhinitis in Latin America, published in the journal Alergia, Mexico, allergic rhinitis was more common in women. The prevalence was 22.3% in the age group of five to 19 years and 19.4% in the age group of 20 to 44 years. The study drew attention to the fact that the majority of women participants in the study did not have a medical diagnosis.
In addition to underdiagnosis, the differentiating effects of medications used to treat allergies and flu-like states add up, as they tend to have a greater impact on women.
"Allergic rhinitis affects the quality of life of those who suffer from it. It is more difficult to have restful sleep, and the patient experiences daytime fatigue, has problems concentrating, and becomes more irritable," explained Thomas Cuellar, Medical Manager for Allegra at Sanofi CHC.
"That's why an appropriate diagnosis is so important, as the patient will recognize the triggers of their allergy and can implement a plan that may include antihistamines to treat the condition," he added.
Similar symptoms, two different conditions
Manifestation time: A cold is caused by a virus or an infectious agent in the body, and its symptoms generally last for about a week on average. On the other hand, allergic rhinitis occurs when the body comes into contact with an airborne molecule that triggers an allergic reaction by the immune system to protect itself.
The symptoms will occur as long as the patient is in contact with the allergen but can be quickly relieved with an antihistamine.
Due to the fact that women tend to have more contact with common allergens in indoor environments such as dust mites, mold, pet dander, and household cleaning chemicals, they are more affected by their effects.
In outdoor environments, pollen, grass, weeds, trees, mold, and vehicle/industrial smoke are the common allergens. Additionally, due to climate change, countries with seasons have experienced increasingly longer and more intense allergy seasons—spring and summer.
Presence of fever and general malaise: Fever is associated with the presence of an infection in the body, so it is a sign of a cold and not an episode of allergic rhinitis. The same goes for general malaise, when symptoms are accompanied by muscle and joint pain and low energy, it is a common cold.
If the symptoms and triggers of discomfort resemble allergic rhinitis, it is important to see a doctor for a definitive diagnosis and identify the allergens causing the disease. If the patient is a child, it is important to take the necessary measures as it can affect their development: physical-social problems, learning difficulties, concentration problems, sleep disorders, and hearing or speech impairments.
General recommendations for patients suffering from allergic rhinitis are:
- Identify what is causing the allergy.
- Avoid contact with the allergen: this is a recommended self-care practice that may not always be feasible.
- Reduce the time of allergen contact with the nasal mucosa by performing saline washes.
- Initiate pharmacotherapy with second-generation oral antihistamines: they are a first-line treatment