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Complications of Allergic Rhinitis

Topic Overview

Long-term (chronic) allergic rhinitis may cause a number of health problems, including:

  • Sinus infections (sinusitis). Allergic rhinitis can block the tubes that drain the sinuses, leading to infection of the sinus cavities (acute sinusitis). Symptoms include pain in the front of the head and upper face, postnasal drip, stuffy nose, and thick, colored mucus. With a severe sinus infection, you may have a fever and feel sick. Allergic rhinitis can also cause long-lasting (chronic) sinusitis or inflammation of the sinus cavities.
  • Plugged ears, pressure or pain in the ears, and ear infections (otitis media). These can occur when allergic rhinitis affects how much mucus you have in your ears and the eustachian tubes, which run between the inside of the ears and the back of the throat. In children, problems with the eustachian tubes can lead to difficulty hearing.
  • Asthma. Many people have both allergic rhinitis and asthma. If you have an allergy, you are more likely to develop asthma. And for people who already have asthma, allergic rhinitis can cause their asthma symptoms to get worse.

Children who breathe through the mouth for years because their nose is plugged can get:

  • A high, narrow roof of the mouth (palate).
  • A pinched-looking face.
  • Teeth that do not line up correctly when the child closes his or her mouth (malocclusion).

Allergic rhinitis can also affect your quality of life. You may avoid seeing people, have problems sleeping, and feel tired or irritable. You may have trouble with school or work and be less productive.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Last Revised June 17, 2013

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