Allergic Rhinitis​


Allergic rhinitis is a disorder with typical cold-like symptoms, such as a blocked and runny nose, watering and itching of the eyes, sinus pressure and sneezing. These symptoms occur as a reaction due to exposure to allergens in the air, resulting in the release of histamine in the body. The histamine results in itching, swelling and fluid build-up in the delicate linings of the nasal passages, sinuses and eye lids. 

Unlike the common cold, allergic rhinitis is not caused by a virus, but is triggered by allergens in the air. Some common allergens that trigger the onset of this disease include pollen, dust mites, or fur or feather of pet animals, such as cats, dogs and pet birds.
Allergic rhinitis may affect an individual seasonally or year-round, though year-round occurrence of this disorder is more common in children. The symptoms of allergic rhinitis may cause discomfort and interfere with everyday activities, but are manageable with the right treatment and being careful about avoiding the triggers.


The symptoms for allergic rhinitis are very similar to those of a common cold. Each individual will experience these symptoms differently. 

Some common signs and symptoms of allergic rhinitis are:​

  • Runny nose.

  • Stuffy nose indicating nasal congestion.

  • Sneezing.

  • Headache.

  • Watery and itching eyes.

  • Itching in the nose, throat, roof of the mouth and ears.

  • Clear nasal drainage.

  • Nose bleeds.

  • Clogged ears.

  • Decreased sense of smell.

  • Puffy eyes.

  • Fatigue and irritability.

  • Coughing.

A person suffering from allergic rhinitis may suffer from all or most of these symptoms. For those suffering from year-round occurrence of this disease, other symptoms may also be noticed, such as breathing through the mouth due to nasal congestion, recurring ear infections, snoring, redness of the nose or a crease at the bridge of the nose due to constant swiping and wiping of the same.

Since these symptoms are very similar to those of a common cold, it is very difficult to differentiate between a cold and allergic rhinitis. Typically, allergic rhinitis is triggered by exposure to an allergen, unlike in a common cold. The nasal discharge due to allergic rhinitis is also watery and clear, while that from a common cold may be either watery or thick and yellow.

For a proper diagnosis of this disease, you can seek a consultation with an ENT (Ear-Nose-Throat) specialist working with the Eye and ENT Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital to get expert medical opinion and guaranteed quality health care. 

If the above symptoms get very severe without any signs of relief, you must seek help from your doctor at The Aga Khan University Hospital. If you have other diseases that can worsen these symptoms, such as asthma, nasal polyps or sinus problems, it is also recommended to seek expert professional advice from the team of qualified ENT doctors at The Aga Khan University Hospital. You can discuss your symptoms privately with your doctor at The Aga Khan University Hospital, seek professional medical advice and follow through the recommended treatment plan to provide you relief from allergic rhinitis.​

You can be assured of receiving the best quality medical care at The Aga Khan University Hospital. Our expert and highly trained staff at the Eye and ENT Service Line can provide you with additional information and medical advice. 

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

Your doctor at The Aga Khan University Hospital will conduct a thorough physical examination and go through your medical history in detail before making the diagnosis. The doctor will particularly examine you for swollen tissue inside the nose or dark circles and creases under the eye. Questions related to your medical history will be focused on your symptoms, the frequency of their occurrence, whether symptoms appear seasonally or year-round, and whether you are being exposed to any allergen which can trigger this disease. ​

Depending on your history and physical examination, your doctor may further recommend allergy testing to find out specifically which allergens trigger allergic rhinitis in a patient. In some cases, special blood tests may also help with diagnosis.

The treatment for allergic rhinitis will depend on the severity of your condition, as well as other factors, such as age, past medical history, or any additional, relevant information. The following are common treatment options prescribed for allergic rhinitis patients:
  • Oral antihistamine medications.

  • Antihistamine nasal sprays.

  • Decongestants to help dry up a runny nose.

  • Nasal wash with a saline spray to remove mucus from the nose.

  • Nasal corticosteroid sprays.

  • Allergy shots in case of symptoms those are very severe and hard to manage.

Besides the medicines mentioned above, treatment for allergic rhinitis also involves lifestyle changes to avoid common allergens which result in the onset of this disease. For instance, you may be asked to avoid exposure to plant pollen and animals, remove carpets from floors where you live, avoid certain activities which may increase exposure to dust or pollen, and take steps to reduce dust and dust mites around your house.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.



The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider. ​