Nasal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis, are a group of symptoms affecting the nose. These symptoms occur when you breathe in something that you are allergic to, known as allergens.

Exposure to an allergen triggers the body’s immune system to release histamine, a natural chemical that defends your body from the allergen. Histamine causes nasal allergy symptoms. Common allergens include pollen, grass, dust, animal dander (old skin that is shedded), cat saliva, and mold.

Nasal allergy symptoms develop immediately after you come into contact with an allergen. Some symptoms, such as recurrent headaches and fatigue, may only develop after long-term exposure to allergens.  Common symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Itchy nose
  • Coughing
  • Sore or scratchy throat
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Frequent headaches
  • Eczema-type symptoms, such as having extremely dry, itchy skin that often blisters
  • Hives
  • Excessive fatigue


Your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms, particularly whether your symptoms vary by time of day or season, and exposure to allergens. Allergy testing may reveal the pollen or other substances that trigger your symptoms. Skin testing is the most common method of allergy testing. A complete blood count (CBC) test, specifically the eosinophil count, may also help diagnose allergies.



Your doctor may prescribe the following common treatments:

  • Antihistamines – a class of medicine that stops your body from making histamine.
  • Decongestants – a type of drug that constricts blood vessels in the nose thereby relieving stuffiness and sinus pressure.
  • Eye drops and nasal sprays – can help relieve itchiness and other allergy-related symptoms for a short time. Long-term use of these products should be avoided.

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