Complications of Allergies

Airborne Allergy

Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH)1

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Back to: « Allergies

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Seasonal Allergies: Nuisance or Real Health Threat?

For most people, hay fever is a seasonal problem—something to endure for a few weeks once or twice a year. But for others, such allergies can lead to more serious complications, including sinusitis and asthma.

Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH)2

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Seasonal Allergies: Nuisance or Real Health Threat?

For most people, hay fever is a seasonal problem—something to endure for a few weeks once or twice a year. But for others, such allergies can lead to more serious complications, including sinusitis and asthma.

Sinusitis is one of the most commonly reported chronic diseases and costs almost $6 billion a year to manage. It is caused by inflammation or infection of the four pairs of cavities behind the nose. Congestion in them can lead to pressure and pain over the eyes, around the nose, or in the cheeks just above the teeth. Chronic sinusitis is associated with persistent inflammation and is often difficult to treat. Extended bouts of hay fever can increase the likelihood of chronic sinusitis. But only half of all people with chronic sinusitis have allergies.

Asthma is a lung disease that narrows or blocks the airways. This causes wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and other breathing difficulties. Asthma attacks can be triggered by viral infections, cold air, exercise, anxiety, allergens, and other factors. Almost 80 percent of people with asthma have allergies, but we do not know to what extent the allergies trigger the breathing problems. However, some people are diagnosed with allergic asthma because the problem is set off primarily by an immune response to one or more specific allergens. Most of the time, the culprit allergens are those found indoors, such as pets, house dust mites, cockroaches, and mold. Increased pollen and mold levels have also been associated with worsening asthma.

Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH)3

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Complications

If you have allergic rhinitis, there's a risk you could develop further problems.

A blocked or runny nose can result in difficulty sleeping, drowsiness during the daytime, irritability and problems concentrating. Allergic rhinitis can also make symptoms of asthma worse.

The inflammation associated with allergic rhinitis can also sometimes lead to other conditions, such as nasal polyps, sinusitis and middle ear infections.

Source: NHS Choices UK4

Increased Risks from Allergies

Osteoporosis, Osteopenia, Bone Loss: Other health problems that increase their risk for bone loss. If you have one of the following health problems, talk to your doctor about your bone health.

Source: NIAMS (NIH)5

Complications for Allergies

Anaphylaxis: Be aware that it is very difficult to know which reactions are mild and which may lead to severe reactions (anaphylaxis).

Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH)6

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Nasal polyps: Nasal polyps

Nasal polyps are swellings that grow in the lining inside your nose or sinuses, the small cavities above and behind your nose.

They're caused by inflammation of the membranes of the nose and sometimes develop as a result of rhinitis.

Nasal polyps are shaped like teardrops when they're growing and look like a grape on a stem when fully grown.

They vary in size and can be yellow, grey or pink. They can grow on their own or in clusters, and usually affect both nostrils.

If nasal polyps grow large enough, or in clusters, they can interfere with your breathing, reduce your sense of smell and block your sinuses, which can lead to sinusitis.

Small nasal polyps can be shrunk using steroid nasal sprays so they don't cause an obstruction in your nose. Large polyps may need to be surgically removed.

Read more about treating nasal polyps.

Source: NHS Choices UK7

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Sinusitis: Sinusitis

Sinusitis is a common complication of rhinitis. It's where the sinuses become inflamed or infected.

The sinuses naturally produce mucus, which usually drains into your nose through small channels.

However, if the drainage channels are inflamed or blocked - for example, because of rhinitis or nasal polyps - the mucus can't drain away and it may become infected.

Source: NHS Choices UK8

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Middle ear infections: Middle ear infections

Middle ear infections (otitis media) can also develop as a complication of nasal problems, including allergic rhinitis.

These infections can occur if rhinitis causes a problem with the Eustachian tube, which connects the back of the nose and middle ear, at the back of the nose.

If this tube doesn't function properly, fluid can build up in the middle ear behind the ear drum and can become infected.

There's also the possibility of infection at the back of the nose spreading to the ear through the Eustachian tube.

Source: NHS Choices UK9

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References

  1. Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ magazine/ issues/ spring15/ articles/ spring15pg26-27.html
  2. ibid.
  3. Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ magazine/ issues/ spring13/ articles/ spring13pg22-23.html
  4. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ allergic-rhinitis/ complications/ 
  5. Source: NIAMS (NIH): niams.nih.gov/ Health_Info/ Bone_Health/ default.asp
  6. Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ magazine/ issues/ spring11/ articles/ spring11pg24-25.html
  7. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ allergic-rhinitis/ complications/ 
  8. ibid.
  9. ibid.

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.