Allergic rhinitis can be classified as a mild to moderate, to moderate to severe condition. It can also be intermittent and severe.

Allergic rhinitis is caused by environmental allergies, meaning certain things we consistently breathe in, that cause our immune systems to react. Particular environmental allergies follow specific patterns and understanding what is causing your symptoms will enable you to manage your allergies better.

Let’s take a look at some of the culprits:

Grass allergies

In the Highveld, grass allergy is the most predominant cause of allergic rhinitis, because grass pollinates for ten months of the year. Most types of grass start to blossom around the end of August, increasing until it peaks in October. It then reaches a plateau, and peaks again between February and March. We often talk about this as “the change of seasons”, and often results in flare-ups of allergic rhinitis. It is interesting to note that grass-allergic patients tend to fare better at the coast, where the ocean breeze tends to blow the allergens away.

Dust Mites

House dust mites are in all our homes and love soft furnishings like beds, pillows, couches, and carpets. These little creatures live off our dead skin cells and obtain water through the environment. House dust mite allergies are worst at the coast, because of the humidity. They also tend to be worse in winter when we are more indoors.


Mould can result in dramatic levels of allergic rhinitis. Alternaria and Cladosporium are outdoor moulds associated with year-round symptoms, but they are much more prevalent in August.


There are no hypoallergenic cats or dogs, and it’s sad to think your best friend might be making you ill. Finding the culprit for your “sinus” or allergic rhinitis helps you to anticipate situations where it flares up and enables you to treat it proactively.

Treatments for allergic rhinitis

To avoid what you are allergic to, we need to identify what triggers your allergy with an accurate history, and history guided testing.

There are specific allergens that are impossible to avoid, such as grass and tree pollen. Fortunately, tree pollen has a short spurt around spring, and most indigenous trees are non-allergenic because insects pollinate their pollen.

Successful house dust mite avoidance is beneficial to control the symptoms of allergic rhinitis and asthma. 

Allergic rhinitis responds well to treatment if correctly applied and consistently used, especially in the case of allergies that are present all year round.

If persistent allergens cause this condition, patients should consider treating it all year round. Antihistamines will help for itchy eyes, nose, throat, and palate, as well as a runny nose, but do not work for blockage symptoms. The standard treatment for blockage and a post nasal drip is intranasal cortisones, administered daily.

Immunotherapy might help

Immunotherapy is a fascinating treatment in which we inject incremental doses of an allergen, or place drops of the allergen under the tongue. We do this to train the immune system to not react to the allergen. This process is very successful in reducing medication needs as well as prevent exacerbations of your symptoms.

Finding the appropriate treatment for your allergies can improve your quality of life and your health. The first step in the right direction will be to find the trigger of your allergy with the help of an allergy expert, after which you might just be prescribed a treatment regime that will help you shake it off for good.

  • The purpose of this article is to raise awareness of allergies and the treatment options that are available for it. This article should by no means be used, or viewed, as a primary source for medical advice – please arrange for a personal consultation with your medical practitioner before taking any decisions that could affect the wellbeing of you or your loved ones. Read our medical disclaimer for more information.

Are you struggling with allergic rhinitis? Contact us through the form at the bottom of this page to see what we can do to treat it!

© 2018 | Dr Marinda McDonald | Practice number 0015393 | All rights reserved

Marinda McDonald

Dr Marinda McDonald has offered specialised treatments for allergies for most of her professional career. Read more about her on the home page of this website (


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