The prevalence of allergic rhinitis among Taiwanese is about 30 percent, according to the Tainan Municipal Hospital, which added that 80 percent of those affected developed symptoms before the age of 20.
Wang Teng-chin (王鐙慶), an otolaryngologist at the hospital, said the onset of allergic rhinitis is usually earlier than that of non-allergic rhinitis, and if both parents of the patient suffer from allergies, the onset could occur even earlier.
Dust mites, cockroaches and mold are some common allergens that can cause allergic rhinitis, Wang said.
Allergic rhinitis is often accompanied by allergic conjunctivitis, with symptoms of itchy eyes and nose, the physician said, adding that patients with the co-morbidity are also at more risk of suffering asthma and atopic dermatitis.
People with allergic rhinitis are more likely to have adenoid hypertrophy, or enlarged adenoids, which would cause nasal congestion, severe snoring, poor function of the Eustachian tubes in the middle ear and fluid behind the eardrum.
Chronic cough caused by post-nasal drip syndrome is also commonly seen among patients with allergic rhinitis, Wang said.
He added that avoiding allergens is the first step for the effective treatment of allergies.
Preventive measures include sleeping on anti-dust-mite bedding, using a high-efficiency particulate air filter and avoiding wall-to-wall carpeting in home environments.
Patients are mostly treated according to the severity of their symptoms.
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