Local News

Runny Noses, Watery Eyes May Not Necessarily Mean You Have An Allergy

Posted December 6, 2001

— People usually have runny noses and watery eyes this time of year. While allergies are usually the cause, something else could also be a culprit.

Millions of allergy sufferers also have nonallergic rhinitis.

"Very often, it's hard to tell the difference between allergic and nonallergic rhinitis. Most people are aware of allergies, such as pollens, grasses, trees, weeds, dust, and mulch, causing allergic nasal symptoms, but nasal symptoms can also be due to nonallergic triggers," allergist Dr. William Berger said.

According to a recent study, 87 percent of people who have nasal congestion, stuffy nose and watery eyes are reacting to nonallergic irritants. The irritants include tobacco smoke, household products and weather changes. Allergy medications can help, but only if you know what is causing your reactions.

"With a careful history, physical exam and appropriate test, the right diagnosis can be made, and with the right diagnosis, they can get appropriate treatment," Berger said.

Ideally, patients should be treated with medications that control both types of rhinitis.

"Once he prescribed a nasal spray, which was very effective, and I've since been very happy with it," patient Fred Beams said.

Some people find that oral antihistamines are not very effective in treating nonallergic reactions. In most cases, nasal sprays are prescribed.

It is also best to avoid contact with irritants. If you are affected by some sort of fragrance or chemical in your home, get rid of it.

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