“Rhinitis is defined as inflammation of the nasal membranes and is characterized by a symptom complex that consists of any combination of the following: sneezing, nasal congestion, nasal itching, and rhinorrhea. The eyes, ears, sinuses, and throat can also be involved. Allergic rhinitis is the most common cause of rhinitis. It is an extremely common condition, affecting approximately 20% of the population. While allergic rhinitis is not a life-threatening condition, complications can occur and the condition can significantly impair quality of life, which leads to a number of indirect costs. The total direct and indirect cost of allergic rhinitis was recently estimated to be $5.3 billion per year.
Pathophysiology: Allergic rhinitis involves inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes, eustachian tubes, middle ear, sinuses, and pharynx. The nose invariably is involved, and the other organs are affected in certain individuals. Inflammation of the mucous membranes is characterized by a complex interaction of inflammatory mediators but ultimately is triggered by an immunoglobulin E (IgE)–mediated response to an extrinsic protein.
The tendency to develop allergic, or IgE-mediated, reactions to extrinsic allergens (proteins capable of causing an allergic reaction) has a genetic component. In susceptible individuals, exposure to certain foreign proteins leads to allergic sensitization, which is characterized by the production of specific IgE directed against these proteins. This specific IgE coats the surface of mast cells, which are present in the nasal mucosa. When the specific protein (eg, a specific pollen grain) is inhaled into the nose, it can bind to the IgE on the mast cells, leading to immediate and delayed release of a number of mediators. (Editorial comment: Ooooooh. Sexy.)
The mediators that are immediately released include histamine, tryptase, chymase, kinins, and heparin. The mast cells quickly synthesize other mediators, including leukotrienes and prostaglandin D2. These mediators, via various interactions, ultimately lead to the symptoms of rhinorrhea (ie, nasal congestion, sneezing, itching, redness, tearing, swelling, ear pressure, postnasal drip). Mucous glands are stimulated, leading to increased secretions. Vascular permeability is increased, leading to plasma exudation. Vasodilation occurs, leading to congestion and pressure. Sensory nerves are stimulated, leading to sneezing and itching. All of these events can occur in minutes; hence, this reaction is called the early, or immediate, phase of the reaction.
Over 4-8 hours, these mediators, through a complex interplay of events, lead to the recruitment of other inflammatory cells to the mucosa, such as neutrophils, eosinophils, lymphocytes, and macrophages. This results in continued inflammation, termed the late-phase response. The symptoms of the late-phase response are similar to those of the early phase, but less sneezing and itching and more congestion and mucus production tend to occur. The late phase may persist for hours or days (Editorial comment: crap, crap, crap!!!)
Systemic effects, including fatigue, sleepiness, and malaise, can occur from the inflammatory response. These symptoms often contribute to impaired quality of life.”
SO that’s how I’m feeling today. All this plasma exudation is exhausting. Those poor mast cells in my nasal mucosa, though. I don’t know what to do about them. I am craving fast food. I can’t taste a thing… so I want crap. I think I’ll go get a can of Manhattan clam chowder and see how that suits me.