“Loving ourselves is the miracle cure we are all looking for.”

~ Louise Hay

Rhinitis refers to the inflammation of the certain inner parts of the nose. Normal fluid in the nose is thin and clear and its job is to trap dust, bacteria, virus, and allergens and keep them out of the lungs. Learning this fact led me to a new-found respect for my mucus, for sure. There is always some mucus draining down the back of the throat and from the front of the nose, although we aren’t aware of it due to its minimal amount.

However, when the nose gets inflamed due to irritants or allergens (mostly harmless) that provoke allergic reaction, watch out! You get that dreaded runny nose and yucky postnasal drip down your throat. But that’s just the beginning…. Your eyes, nose, and throat get itchy, non-stop sneezing that elicits “bless you” wherever you go. For some of us, the fatigue and weakness along with headache and facial pain become too much to bear. This defensive, over-reactive response by our immune system is like a sensitive car alarm going off at the slightest provocation.

Rhinitis is classified into allergic and non-allergic types. For many of us symptoms of allergic rhinitis are temporary annoyance (I hear a collective sigh of relief!). But when they persist, quality of our life in work, school, or daily activities can be seriously undermined.

Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis can be categorized into two subgroups: seasonal and perennial. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is caused by the substances that trigger allergic reaction. These allergens can be found in both outdoors and indoors. It is commonly known as ‘hay fever‘ although neither hay nor fever is involved. The common allergens are pollen from trees, grasses, weeds, or airborne mold spores. The pollen is at highest in the air during spring and fall which, unfortunately, happen to be the best times to be outdoors. About one in five people suffer from this most common allergic condition.

I am sure some of us have considered moving to another state hoping the symptoms would disappear. However, experts say it is futile because your sinuses will soon catch up with the irritants in the new area and you will suffer from the local climate.

Perennial allergic rhinitis occurs year round due to the constant presence of allergy triggering substances. The main causes are dust mites, mold, animal dander, and cockroach debris. But sometimes perennial rhinitis is not caused by allergic triggers. It may be caused by infections, overuse of nasal sprays, hormonal changes, or physical abnormalities of the nose. Food allergies may be culprits as well although we are often not aware of them. Symptoms of perennial allergic rhinitis are similar to those produced by allergies. It’s possible for some of us to have both kinds of rhinitis, which leads one to wonder, “Just what did I do to deserve that!”

Non Allergic Rhinitis

If you have a recurrent runny or stuffy nose and headache all year long, you may have non-allergic rhinitis. The symptoms of non-allergic rhinitis are similar to those of allergic rhinitis, but allergy is not involved. Typically, diagnosis of non-allergic rhinitis is considered after an allergy cause is ruled out by a medical doctor, by conducting an allergy test.

Non-allergic rhinitis affects about 17 million people in the United States. Another term for non-allergic rhinitis is vasomotor rhinitis.

It is stressful to deal with constant runny and congested nose, headache, and fatigue. Any one with such symptoms has my genuine sympathies. But I also want to share that out of this misery, I have made changes that vastly improved my overall health. Although there are still challenges, I can really say this disease has been a gift (not something I wished for but a gift nonetheless). A gift that is teaching me to heal my whole being – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. I am learning about self-care, acceptance of whatever it is and gleaning important, positive health lessons from it.

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