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Allergic Rhinitis and Sinusitis: Overview and Risk Factors

Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is very common, affecting at least 60 million people in the United States. Allergens cause release of chemicals in the nose that result in the typical symptoms: runny nose, sinus congestion and pressure (especially when leaning forward), sneezing, coughing, and itching of the eyes, palate, and nose. Also, sleep disturbance may occur, leading to fatigue.

Allergic rhinitis can be intermittent (seasonal) or persistent (perennial) and may be described as mild, moderate, or severe, to the extent that it interferes with sleep or daily activities.

Sinusitis, also known as rhinosinusitis, is an inflammatory disorder of the nasal sinuses. The most common causes are viral upper airway infections and allergies. Bacterial sinusitis can also occur once a viral infection has taken hold and weakened the immune system.

Along with possible symptoms of rhinitis, sinusitis may include nasal discharge, postnasal drip, cough, headache, and teeth or facial pain at sinus sites. It may also affect the sense of smell, cause bad breath, and exacerbate asthma.

Risk Factors

Allergic Rhinitis

  • History of allergies in the patient or family
  • Male gender
  • First–born child
  • Birth during a pollen season
  • Early introduction of infant formula and food
  • Early antibiotic use
  • Maternal smoking in first year of life
  • Exposure to indoor allergens (dust mites, animal dander, mold)


  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Medical procedures in the nose
  • Dental infection
  • Cystic fibrosis or other lung abnormalities
  • Chemical irritation
  • Obstruction due to tumors, infection, or foreign bodies


Allergic Rhinitis and Sinusitis: Diagnosis and Treatment >>