How We Can Help
Allergic & Chronic Rhinitis Treatment Information
IU Health physicians help you manage your allergic and chronic rhinitis using the following services:
- Allergy skin testing. The first step toward reducing your allergies is determining what exactly you are allergic to. Skin testing is a quick, safe way to test for multiple allergies at the same time. During skin testing, we prick your skin and expose you to small amounts of allergens, ranging from pollen to dust to pet dander. If a red, swollen bump forms around the prick site, we know that you are sensitized to that substance.
- Allergy blood testing. For people with asthma or extremely severe allergies, skin testing may not be the safest option. Instead, we draw a small amount of blood and examine it for the presence of antibodies. Antibodies are immune cells your body creates to fight off invaders like bacteria, viruses or allergens. Because each antibody is unique to what it is fighting, we can determine what you are sensitive to by examining your antibodies. Blood testing is safer for some patients, but offers slower results.
- Allergy medicines. Many prescription or over-the-counter medicines are available to relieve allergies. Depending on the severity of your allergies, you may take multiple medicines. Antihistamines effectively treat mild to moderate allergic rhinitis. These oral medicines are usually available over-the-counter. They block the production of histamine, a substance in your body that causes swelling and redness in your airways. Corticosteroids decrease the amount of swelling in your airways. For rhinitis, they are most commonly taken as a nasal spray. Decongestants reduce the size of the blood vessels in your nose, relieving some of the swelling and congestion you experience. You can build up a dependence on decongestant sprays, so it is important that you follow your allergist’s instructions exactly when using these medicines. You can get pills over-the-counter and by prescription that combine antihistamines and decongestants in one dose.
- Immunotherapy. During immunotherapy, often called allergy shots, you are exposed to the allergen in a controlled environment at your physician’s office. You are injected with the allergen and monitored to make sure you do not have a bad reaction. Over time, this conditions your body to not be hyperactive toward the allergen. Immunotherapy is an effective, but often underused treatment option that reduces or eliminates the need for allergy medicines.
- Education. Once we determine what specific allergens your body reacts to, we teach you how to avoid that allergen as much as possible. For instance, if you are allergic to dust mites, you can purchase air filters, special bedding and other products that reduce the number of dust mites in your home.
- Referral to specialists. If we determine that your rhinitis is not caused by allergies, we refer you to IU Health Ear, Nose and Throat physicians. They may run additional tests, such as computed tomography (CT) scans to better understand the causes of your rhinitis and determine what treatments will benefit you, such as oral medicines or even surgery.
Allergic & Chronic Rhinitis Locations & Physicians
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Allergic & Chronic Rhinitis Support Services
Rhinitis can make it difficult to go about your daily activities. Learn more about managing your allergies at the websites below.
A Sampling of Allergic & Chronic Rhinitis Support Services
American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology
This website hosts a variety of articles, quizzes and other resources about hay fever.
National Institutes of Health
This websites features resources on the diagnosis and treatment of allergic rhinitis.