Is it Allergic Rhinitis or Asthma? Find Out Here

You wake up one morning coughing and wheezing but you’re not sure if you’re experiencing allergy symptoms like those related to allergic rhinitis , or you’re having an asthma episode. It’s easy to get confused as the two have similar symptoms. There are also links between allergies and asthma.1 However, the management of allergic rhinitis and asthma is different, so it’s important to know the difference between the two.

What is Allergic Rhinitis?

Also known as hay fever , allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction to certain allergens in the environment, like pollen or dust. It is characterized by nasal irritation and inflammation.

There are two types of allergic rhinitis: seasonal and perennial.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis occurs at certain times of the year when allergens like pollen and mold spore counts are high in the environment. An allergen is a substance that is usually harmless but triggers an allergic reaction in some people.

Perennial allergic rhinitis is experienced all year round and could be triggered by allergens in and around your home. These include animal dander (tiny flakes of dead skin), dust mites , and mold.2

When a person with allergic rhinitis inhales these allergens, their body’s immune system “overreacts” and identifies these as harmful. As part of its defense mechanism, the immune system releases a chemical known as histamine which is responsible for typical allergy symptoms of allergic rhinitis, like:

  • Runny nose, sneezing, and congestion
  • Itchy throat, nose, and eyes
  • Wheezing, coughing, and trouble breathing
  • Headaches and sinus pain

Common triggers of an allergic rhinitis reaction include:

  • Pollen from trees, grass, and weeds
  • Mold spores
  • Pet dander
  • Dust mites that live in bedding, carpets and other areas of your home

How Can You Tell Asthma and Allergic Rhinitis Apart?

Asthma Allergic Rhinitis
It is a chronic lung disease. It is an overreaction of the immune system to allergens and is seasonal in some people.
Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, breathing difficulties, and chest tightness. Symptoms extend to itchy, red eyes, hives ( urticaria ), sneezing, runny nose, and congestion.
Medication5 provides both quick relief (short-acting beta agonists, oral corticosteroids, intravenous corticosteroids, Ipratropium); and long-term relief (inhaled corticosteroids, Long-acting beta agonists (LABAs), Theophylline, Leukotriene modifiers, and Combination inhalers. Allergy symptom relief medication5 includes antihistamines, corticosteroids, decongestants, and mast cell stabilizers.

When it comes to treating asthma, you must always consult your healthcare provider for a proper treatment plan that is tailored to you.

However, allergy symptoms can be managed in an easier way by following a few simple tips.

What to Do About Allergies

Identify Your Allergies

The first step is to identify what you are allergic to. You could do this by seeing an allergist who is medically trained to diagnose different types of allergies and advise you on a management plan.

Avoid and Eliminate Allergens

Once you know what you’re allergic to, you could take steps to avoid, eliminate or minimize your exposure to those allergens:

  • After coming from outside, change your clothes or take a shower. This gets rid of allergens that might have stuck to your or your clothes.
  • Deep clean your home once a week and perform daily quick cleans to get rid of dust.
  • Keep your windows and doors closed during seasons when there is a lot of pollen or pollution in the air.
  • Keep your house clear of plants that might trigger your allergies.
  • Wash your bedding in hot water every week.
  • Wear a well-fitting N95 mask when outdoors, when there is a lot of pollution in the area.

Control the Symptoms

Medications such as antihistamines that are easily available over-the-counter (OTC) can be used to provide relief for allergy symptoms. Antihistamines typically counteract the effect of histamines in your body, which is the chemical responsible for allergy symptoms.2 By ensuring that you have these medications with you at home or when out and about you can easily manage allergies when needed.

Please note that a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction like anaphylaxis requires immediate emergency care and should not be treated with antihistamines or other OTC allergy medication.

Among the antihistamines you can take for allergy symptom relief is ​​Loratadine (Claritin®). Loratadine (Claritin®) works in as fast as 15 minutes6, is non-drowsy7,8 vs. first-generation antihistamines and cetirizine, and lasts up to 24 hours8.

ASC Ref. Code: B127P032222CS


  1. Relationship between Asthma and Rhinitis: Epidemiologic, Pathophysiologic, and Therapeutic Aspects. Bergeron, C. and Hamid, Q. Allergy , Asthma & Clinical Immunology. 2005. Retrieved on December 2, 2021 from
  2. Allergic and Non- allergic Rhinitis Frequently Asked Questions. Marshfield Clinic Health System. Retrieved on December 2, 2021 from
  3. Asthma. The Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on December 2, 2021 from
  4. What is Asthma? American Lung Association. Retrieved on December 2, 2021 from
  5. The Difference between Allergy and Asthma. Florida Medical Clinic. Retrieved on December 2, 2021 from
  6. Sur, Denise K C, and Monica L Plesa. “Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis.” American family physician vol. 92,11 (2015): 985-92.
  7. Kawauchi, H.; Yanai, K.; Wang, D.-Y.; Itahashi, K.; Okubo, K. Antihistamines for Allergic Rhinitis Treatment from the Viewpoint of Nonsedative Properties. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20, 213.
  8. Haria, Malini, et al. “Loratadine.” Drugs, vol. 48, no. 4, 1994, pp. 617–637.,