What Causes Allergic Rhinitis? - dummies

By Wendy Warner, Kellyann Petrucci

Runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing that won’t stop . . . Do you suffer with allergies that either come on seasonally or plague you year-round? You’re not alone in your misery. Many people experience allergic reactions to their environments — from mildly annoying nasal congestion to full-blown inflammation that affects their ability to function.

Seasonal allergens primarily include pollen from trees, weeds, and grasses, while year-round allergens include dust mites, mold, and other allergens found in the home or workplace. Pets are also a pretty common cause of year-round allergic rhinitis. Of course, some people are affected by both seasonal and year-round allergens, so they should consider that possibility when searching for causes of allergic rhinitis.

Seasonal allergens

The presence of pollen from trees, weeds, and grasses varies both seasonally and geographically. Unfortunately, you can’t simply move and get away from all allergens, because virtually every place on earth contains some form of common allergen; for example, ragweed is found in all 50 states of the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Spiderstock 2010]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Spiderstock 2010

Year-round allergens

Year-round allergens can be difficult to determine and even harder to avoid. The most common indoor source of problems is dust mites. They feed on organic matter, such as dead skin cells from both humans and pets. They’re commonly found in carpets, bedding, curtains, upholstered furniture, and stuffed toys around the house.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Alex Croft 2010]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Alex Croft 2010

Pet dander is also a common cause of year-round symptoms, although it may be a source of only intermittent symptoms if you’re exposed to an animal that you’re not usually around.

Cockroach infestation is a very common source of allergens, leading to both asthma symptoms and allergic rhinitis.

Mold in the house, which may not even be apparent to the eye, can cause symptoms and should be searched for and remediated if found.