What is the pathophysiology of pediatric allergic rhinitis?

Updated: Jun 04, 2021
  • Author: Jack M Becker, MD; Chief Editor: Harumi Jyonouchi, MD  more...
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Answer

Understanding the function of the nose is important in order to understand allergic rhinitis (AR). The purpose of the nose is to filter, humidify, and regulate the temperature of inspired air. This is accomplished on a large surface area spread over 3 turbinates in each nostril. A triad of physical elements (ie, a thin layer of mucus, cilia, and vibrissae [hairs] that trap particles in the air) accomplishes temperature regulation. The amount of blood flow to each nostril regulates the size of the turbinates and affects airflow resistance. The nature of the filtered particles can affect the nose. Irritants (eg, cigarette smoke, cold air) cause short-term rhinitis; however, allergens cause a cascade of events that can lead to more significant, prolonged inflammatory reactions.

In short, rhinitis results from a local defense mechanism in the nasal airways that attempts to prevent irritants and allergens from entering the lungs.


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