Colds, allergic rhinitis, rhinopharyngitis, sinusitis


Colds : the starting point for ear, nose and throat infections?

A cold is a generic, non-medical term encompassing most acute nasal conditions, i.e., those which last only a few days as opposed to chronic conditions. The common cold starts out as a simple rhinopharyngitis. Colds are often caused by viruses.
Children under age 4 have an average of 8 colds a year; older children have 4 or 5 colds a year and young adults 2 or 3 a year.

How do colds impact our quality of life?

Having a cold is not as innocent as it seems because colds can make life pretty miserable.
Common symptoms include nasal congestion, sneezing, sore throat, cough, feeling unwell, shivers, runny nose and headache.
94 % of cold sufferers say their colds interfere with sleep and 87 % say they interfere with social activities.

What are the possible complications of a cold?

A run-of-the-mill cold can turn into acute otitis media, acute sinusitis, an asthma attack or acute bronchitis.
This is even more likely to occur in people who have allergies, asthma who smoke or who breathe through their mouths.
The ideal thing to do is to break the vicious cycle initiated by the cold so that it does not develop into rhinopharyngitis or rhinosinusitis.

ALLERGIC RHINITIS: What causes it?

Are you an allergy sufferer?

If it offers any consolation, you are not alone: 24 % of the population suffers from allergies of one kind or another: to animal hair, house mites, dust, pollen, food or other products.

Epidemiological studies have shown that the frequency of such allergies has doubled over the last 30 years.

Allergic rhinitis has many causes, the main ones are:

  • The deterioration in our environment, in particular the rise in air pollution, and
  • the increasing confinement of the houses we live in (the energy crisis led to improved home insulation, but at the expense of an increased density of domestic allergens).

The World Health Organisation now ranks allergy as the 4th most common pathology worldwide. 30 % of the population has already had some sort of allergic condition. Some estimates predict that this proportion will rise to 50 % between 2035 and 2050.

Allergic rhinitis is caused by exposure of the nasal mucosa to inhaled allergens such as pollen, house dust, house dust mites, etc.

There are two types of allergic rhinitis:

  • Seasonal rhinitis (also known as "pollinosis" or "hay fever") which is closely linked to the pollen calendar. Of the 20 % of the population affected by allergies, 75 % are allergic to pollen. The months with the highest pollen counts are April to June, with the herbaceous plants such as rapeseed and the gramineous plants such as hay in full flower. But plane, birch and poplar trees, as well as linden and privet in July, can also trigger allergies.
  • Aperiodic (or perannual) rhinitis is caused by non-seasonal allergens present all year round. Allergens include house dust mites, cockroaches and mould, which flourish in warm, damp conditions, and also animal hair. Close to 2.5 % of the population is allergic to pets, with cats topping the chart.

Certain individuals are what is termed polysensitised, meaning that they suffer from both seasonal allergies (e.g. to pollen) and paperiodic allergies (e.g. to dog hair).

How does allergic rhinitis occur?

2 phases:

Phase 1:

Sensitisation (first exposure) to the allergen.

The allergen comes into contact with the individual. The organism mounts an immune response to it. In the course of this initial exposure, the individual produces antibodies (mast cells) which are able to recognise the allergen concerned. These antibodies then fix onto the nasal mucosa.

Phase 2:

Second exposure to the allergen.

When contact next occurs, the allergen encounters the mast cells and triggers a reaction, causing the release of inflammatory factors like histamine.

This inflammatory reaction then in turn triggers:

  • hypersecretion of mucus and swelling of the nasal mucosa due to inflammation that can, at worst, obstruct the airways,
  • frequent sneezing,
  • red, watery eyes,
  • diminished sense of smell.

When you use Stérimar, you rid your nose of allergens, reduce the congestion of the nasal mucosa, reduce the volume of mucus and thus restore optimum nasal function.

What are the complications of allergic rhinitis?

  • A blocked nose can interfere drastically with your sleep.
  • The chronic discomfort is incapacitating, especially the phenomenon of a constantly running nose, and can only be combated by the use of antihistamines, many of which risk causing drowsiness. Users are thus at risk of being less alert and attentive at crucial moments (at the wheel, at work, during final exams, etc.).
  • Asthma, often associated with allergic rhinitis (a trigger factor), is the most serious associated event.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that there are currently 300 million people with asthma worldwide. Asthma is the most common chronic disease in childhood.

In 2002, the WHO published its ARIA report (Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma).

The report's objective:

  • To draw up an inventory of the incidence of allergic rhinitis,
  • To adopt a strategy of asthma prevention by providing for better treatment.

The report shows that 80 % of asthma sufferers presented with previous incidence of rhinitis.
Better treatment could have avoided aggravation of the condition and its subsequent evolution.
As a result, asthma and allergies have been identified by the WHO as public health priorities.