2-28. ALLERGIC RHINITIS
Rhinitis is the inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose. Allergic
rhinitis is a general term used to describe any allergic reaction of the nasal mucosa.
a. Non-seasonal (perennial) allergic rhinitis is an allergic rhinitis that may occur
intermittently or continuously all year round. It is caused by exposure to an allergen
such as house dust, animal dander, or food. It is characterized by sudden attacks of
sneezing, swelling of the nasal mucosa with watery discharge, and itching of the eyes
b. Seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is a seasonal variety of allergic rhinitis
caused by a specific allergen such as a particular pollen. It is characterized by acute
conjunctivitis with itching and lacrimation, swelling of the nasal mucosa with watery
discharge, sudden attacks of sneezing, and quite often with asthmatic symptoms.
Inflammation of a sinus may be acute or chronic. It usually occurs with other
upper respiratory infections since mucous membranes of the nasal cavities are
continuous with the sinuses. Sinusitis may also occur from obstructions that block
drainage from the sinuses. An untreated acute sinusitis may become chronic or may
lead to a more serious condition such as brain abscess, meningitis, or septicemia.
a. Sinusitis is characterized by pain and nasal congestion. The location of the
pain is diagnostically important. Frontal pain or headache indicates frontal sinus
involvement. Pain in and around the eyes is associated with the ethmoid sinuses.
Maxillary sinusitis is characterized by pain lateral to the nose, sometimes accompanied
by aching in the upper teeth. In sphenoid sinusitis, an occipital headache may occur.
b. Treatment involves rest and measures to facilitate sinus drainage. Increased
humidity, increased fluid intake, and steam inhalation will help to liquify and loosen
secretions. Nasal and/or oral use of vasoconstricting drugs is indicated. Antihistimines
and antibiotics may also be used depending upon the causative agents involved.
Inflammation of the pharynx is caused by several viruses and bacteria. It is
characterized by pain in the throat, dysphagia, red and inflamed mucosa, and
enlargement of the tonsils and cervical lymph nodes.
a. Throat culture is used to determine the causative organism. If the condition is
caused by bacteria such as streptococcus or staphylococcus, the symptoms may be
more severe and complications such as sinusitis, mastoiditis, and otitis media may