Causes of allergic rhinitis

Both the microenvironment indoors and also the environment out of doors have to be separately considered. All animals are strong sensitizers to the allergic-prone individual. Cats are stronger sensitiz ers than dogs, but all very small animals such as guinea pigs or hamsters can cause symptoms. Laboratory allergy is a significant problem since rats, mice, guinea pigs and rabbits in an animal laboratory-setting, may quickly sensitize the allergic-prone individual.

There are many occupational allergic hazards which can give rise to allergic rhinitis and, more important, to the associated asthma. Workers dealing with castor beans (Ricin spp.), whether in the fields, during transport, at the dockside or in ships, are particularly at risk. They are such a strong sensitizers that they will cause allergic inhalent problems to the so-called 'normal' population when downwind from a castor bean factory or when actively working with the beans.

In a hospital setting, latex allergy occurs in 8-17% of health work personnel. Wherever latex gloves are in use in hospital there will be airborne latex allergen which may sensitize particularly the atopic individual.

It must be remembered that ingestants as well as inhalants may cause rhinitis. Traditionally, milk is supposed in some people to cause catarrh but this symptom is difficult to evaluate. Both the mediators of nasal allergy and also the resulting clinical symptoms including nasal obstruction can be measured after provocation tests. However, the nose, which has its own neurogenic system and complicated blood supply, is exposed to so many stimuli, only some of these specifically allergic and only some from the external environment, that it is not surprising that rhinitis has many pathophysiological forms.

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