Allergic rhinitis

General information

Allergic rhinitis causes sneezing, blocked nose and itching. The nose maybe running with clear, watery liquid. Eyelids may also swell up and eyes may be itchy and red. Some people with allergies have asthma symptoms.

Allergic reactions are caused by sensitivity to pollen or animals, among other things. Exposure to cigarette smoke increases the risk of allergies.

Patients with pollen allergies may experience symptoms caused by cross reactivity with, e.g. foods such as fruit, spices, root vegetables or nuts (itchiness in the mouth and lips).


Antihistamine tablets are available over the counter at pharmacies and they are often sufficient to alleviate allergic symptoms. Symptoms may also be treated with nasal sprays. The pharmacy staff is happy to help you choose the right type of medication. You can also try nasal rinsing with saline using e.g. the “neti pot".

If your symptoms are severe, it is best to try and avoid exposure to the allergen. The only way to reduce the risk of allergic rhinitis is to smoke less or quit smoking. If you regularly suffer from allergic rhinitis during the pollen season, you may benefit from commencing allergy medication before the season begins and your symptoms start.

When should you seek medical advice?

  • If you can’t manage your symptoms through self-care or if you are unable to identify the allergen causing your symptoms and your symptoms persist, it is recommended that you seek medical help to be prescribed more effective medication and to take allergy tests if necessary.
  • If your symptoms include swelling in the mouth, throat and mucous membranes or difficulty breathing you must seek medical treatment immediately.
  • If you have asthma or any other disease of the lungs, you should always follow the instructions given by your own doctor.

This Self-care instruction has been produced in collaboration with Duodecim Terveyskirjasto

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Updated  5.6.2020