Hi! What should I do with my "allergy"? I have something which I do not really have a term for, but basically the insides of my nose are always inflamed to some extent, causing partial or sometime full blockage of normal breathing through the nostrils. I have been to lots of doctors, and I even took regular allergy shots for a while. However, nothing seems to help. Most doctors agree that this is some "allergic" thing. What can I do about it and where can I get more help?


— Itchy nose

Dear Itchy nose,

How frustrating! Of course you can't fix the problem until you can figure out what is causing this "allergic thing." Food allergies can be easier to pinpoint because you'll start to have a reaction within two hours each time you eat that food. But, because allergies can cause a wide range of symptoms (including itching of the mouth/throat/eyes/skin, nasal congestion or a runny nose, hives, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and so on) and since lots of people are allergic to lots of different things, allergies can sometimes be tough to figure out.

Since your symptoms seem to be ever present, maybe you are allergic to tissues or products you always use (cosmetics, lotion, shampoo?) or something else you come into contact with everyday. Because your symptom is an inflamed nose, maybe you are allergic to something in the air like dust, pet dander, mold, or pollen. To help you figure out what could be causing your allergic reactions, you may want to try removing one potential allergen from your life at a time. For example, try changing to a hypoallergenic shampoo for a week or two to see if the inflammation in your nose goes down. If not, you can use your old shampoo again and try something different. Try sleeping in a different room. Try dusting and vacuuming your room to get it really dust-free to see if that helps. 

You know your daily routine the best, so you may have a hunch about what is causing your nose to be inflamed. Try totally avoiding that thing for a while to see if you experience any improvement. Also, try to be observant to see if you can notice any patterns to when your nose feels more inflamed and when it feels better.

Finally, you may want to go see an allergist. Generally, skin tests are the most reliable for diagnosing allergies. However, the accuracy of different allergy tests can vary, and you can react differently to the same allergy test performed on different days. For these reasons, you may want to have tests repeated.

Good luck Itchy nose with your mission to discover the cause of your allergic reactions!


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