Rhinitis refers to the inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane, which produces symptoms such as sneezing, runny, congested and/or an itchy nose. These symptoms usually extends to the eyes and throat as the areas of the eyes, ears, nose and throat (ENT) are inter-connected.
Essentially, inflammation occurs as a result of the immune system’s reaction to an allergen. Although harmless allergens present in the air would not normally affect the average person, people with sensitive noses are overwhelmed by its presence because of their hypersensitive immune system. In Malaysia, the most common allergy triggers are house dust mites and the haze, as reported by more than half of nasal allergy sufferers.
Sinusitis is different from allergic rhinitis. Although Malaysians often refer to the term “sinus” to describe either conditions. Our sinuses are hollow cavities in the skull located by the cheeks, forehead, nose and eyes. Sinusitis refers to the swelling or inflammation of the sinus mucous membrane causing blockage of the sinus openings that normally drain mucous. Sinusitis will almost always happen after chronic bouts of rhinitis and rarely occurs on its own. As the nasal and sinus passages are so closely inter-related, otolaryngologists now refer to sinusitis as rhinosinusitis. Globally, it has been established that about 51% of rhinosinusitis cases are caused by allergies.