As many countries experience the effects of allergies, temperature fluctuations, and abundant blooms, it is not uncommon to encounter cold-like symptoms outside the typical winter. However, these symptoms might also indicate allergic rhinitis, similar to the common cold.

Rhinitis and Allergic Rhinitis

Otolaryngology specialists emphasize that while we often refer to it as a ‘cold’, a more accurate term for this condition is ‘rhinitis’. Rhinitis can be categorized into two main types:

  • Non-Allergic Rhinitis
  • Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis, in turn, can be further divided into:

  • Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis: This type affects individuals who are allergic to specific allergens and experience symptoms during particular times of the year.
  • Perennial Allergic Rhinitis: Those suffering from perennial allergic rhinitis are allergic to pollen and dust mites and molds. This form of rhinitis is termed “perennial” because it persists throughout the year.

Symptoms and Their Commonality

Both allergic rhinitis and rhinitis share similar symptoms that impact the nose and the sinuses. These symptoms include nasal congestion, runny nose, and excessive mucus production. Individuals may also experience a diminished sense of taste and smell, ear congestion and pressure, eye irritation, and tearing (known as ocular rhinitis).

The Significance of Otolaryngological Examination

Although rhinitis is often considered a relatively minor ailment, it should not be underestimated. Undergoing an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) examination is advisable to rule out the possibility that rhinitis, especially if it is perennial, is chronic rhinosinusitis (with or without polyps) or non-allergic inflammatory rhinitis.

In cases of non-allergic inflammatory rhinitis, it is vital to investigate the type of inflammation. If it is allergic rhinitis, allergy tests can help determine the patient’s immunological profile.

While the symptoms of inflammatory rhinitis closely resemble those of allergic rhinitis, the underlying causes are distinct. Consequently, as with all medical conditions, self-treatment is discouraged for rhinitis. It is essential to identify the root cause to prescribe the appropriate treatment and avoid situations where self-administered remedies might interfere with allergy test results in cases of allergic rhinitis.