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Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have established diagnosis and treatment guidelines for patients with allergic rhinitis (nasal allergies or commonly, hay fever). Nasal allergies are estimated to affect approximately 1 in 6 Americans.
Inhaled allergens can cause nasal inflammation and result in congestion, itching, draining, and sneezing. Common triggers include dust and dust mites, mold, pet dander, and pollen. The recommended treatment options for allergic rhinitis include:
- Environmental controls - including agents to kill dust mites, allergen barriers, air filtration systems
- Medications - including nasal sprays and antihistamines
- Immunotherapy - desensitization by means of shots or pills aimed at gradually exposing the individual to allergens to build immune response
- Acupuncture - suggested to patient who prefer avoiding medication usage
- Nasal surgery - an alternative to be used only in the event that medical management fails
Researchers are indicating that the most promising method currently employed is immunotherapy. Currently, various methods are being developed to deliver controlled amounts of allergens and researchers are learning more about inflammation and immune response.