Persistent cold or allergy?

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Continuous cold is often difficult to distinguish from allergies

Dripping noses are currently in high season. But more than two million people also suffer from nasal congestion if they do not have a good cold. They often dismiss symptoms as a harbinger of an infection. However, it is much more likely that a special form of runny nose - the so-called rhinitis - will cause runny nose. This is triggered, for example, by allergic reactions, enlarged tonsils, abuse of the nasal spray or external stimuli.

"In some people, even slight mechanical, thermal or chemical stimuli cause an overreaction of the nasal mucosa," explains Dr. Uso Walter, practicing ear, nose and throat doctor and chairman of the HNOnet NRW medical network. This includes, for example, dry or dusty air, cold or certain medications. Sprays containing cortisone reduce these overreactions of the secretion-producing glands and thus reduce constant runny nose. Such sprays also help against allergic swelling of the nasal mucosa. This reaction is triggered when the body reacts to normally harmless environmental substances with excessive immune system defense reactions. Allergens do not necessarily have to be seasonal pollen, but can also be present all year round, such as dust mites, animal hair or undetected mold. The ENT doctor uses an allergy test to determine whether an allergy triggers the symptoms and to which allergens the patient reacts. "Sometimes it is enough to avoid contact with the relevant substance," says Dr. Walter. For example, textiles with fur for animal hair allergies can easily be replaced with other materials. If you do not want to accept any restrictions or are difficult to avoid the allergen, we recommend specific immunotherapy, hyposensitization. Prescription sprays containing cortisone help especially in acute cases.

The hasty grip on the nasal spray sometimes leads to runny nose - at least when it comes to conventional sprays. Many people with a constantly blocked nose bring about the chronic condition themselves by regularly using over-the-counter nasal sprays. Initially, the sprays bring relief, but if the effects of the decongestants weaken through habituation, there is often increased blood flow to the nasal mucosa. It swells more than before, dries out and in the worst case takes permanent damage. The re-swelling also tempts to use the spray again. Instead of clearing the nose, permanent use leads to a chronically blocked nose. “This dependency does not arise with prescription sprays, so they can also be used in the long term,” adds Dr. “Using nasal sprays for a few days as part of a cold doesn't make you addicted either. However, if you still have a runny nose after a week, you should see an ENT doctor. This is a sign of pathological changes in the inside of the nose. ”Then there may also be an anatomical cause such as bowing of the septum, internal warts or, in children, the often enlarged tonsils, so-called polyps. (pm)

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Video: Allergic Rhinitis - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

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