One of the most common forms of allergies is an allergic reaction to something in the air. These tiny particles floating in the air are so small that they cannot even be seen. But, when breathed into the nose or lungs, or when they come in contact with the eyes, they can cause an allergic reaction. These particles are called allergens, a name given to substances that cause an allergic reaction.
Doctors split allergies caused by allergens in the air into two general types - seasonal allergies and year-round allergies. Let's look at each in more detail.
As the names imply, seasonal allergies are those that occur or get worse during a particular time of year. Year-round allergies, on the other hand, are allergies that can occur all-year long.
Common triggers of seasonal allergies are found outdoors and include spores from fungi and mold along with pollen from trees, grasses and weeds. With pollen, each plant has a pollinating period that is more or less the same from year to year, whether it be during the spring, summer, or fall. A person will have symptoms based on when the allergen they are allergic to is in the air.
Year-round allergies are often triggered by allergens found indoors. Common indoor allergens include dust mites, which are bugs so small that you can't see them, mold, cockroaches, and animal dander, which are dead skin flakes from animals with fur.
There are a number of different names that you might hear instead of seasonal or year-round allergies. But, they will generally mean the same thing. Seasonal allergies are also referred to as hay fever, outdoor allergies, intermittent allergies, or seasonal allergic rhinitis. Year-round allergies may be called indoor allergies, persistent allergies, perennial allergies, or perennial allergic rhinitis.
Allergic rhinitis is the name generally used by healthcare providers. So what does this mean?
Rhinitis is a term used for inflammation in the nasal passages. Everyone has had rhinitis -- it's what happens during the common cold. Allergy sufferers are also very familiar with rhinitis symptoms which include:
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Itching nose and
• Postnasal drip, which is the sensation of mucus draining down the back of the throat.
When rhinitis is the result of an allergic reaction, it is called allergic rhinitis.
Symptoms of allergic rhinitis can affect not only the nose, but also the eyes, throat, and ears, and can even affect sleep.