Every spring, do you find yourself squinting through swollen eyes and wiping a runny nose? Are tissues with lotion a part of your daily routine? Do you find yourself hiding in the house to keep pollen allergies from making you miserable each spring and summer?
If any of this sounds familiar, you may be suffering from allergic rhinitis. But if you served in the military, you may be able to get an allergic rhinitis VA rating. Read on to learn more about this condition and how you could get disability compensation for it.
In This Article About Chronic Rhinitis VA Disability:
- What Is Allergic Rhinitis?
- Symptoms of Chronic Rhinitis
- What Causes Allergic Rhinitis?
- Common Triggers of Rhinitis Symptoms
- Allergic Rhinitis vs. Sinusitis
- Risk Factors for Veterans with Chronic Rhinitis
- Complications from Allergic Rhinitis
- When to See a Doctor
- Qualifying for VA Disability
- VA Disability Rating Schedules
- Compensation Amounts
- Getting a Diagnosis
- Proving a Service Connection
- Tips for Applying
- What to Do If Your Claim Is Denied
- Get Your Allergic Rhinitis VA Rating
What Is Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis is the more scientific term for a condition you’re probably familiar with – hay fever. You may refer to it as allergies, and many people confuse it with the common cold and sinusitis. But unlike these two things, allergic rhinitis isn’t caused by any sort of virus or bacteria.
Mild cases of allergic rhinitis are annoying and may mean you have to buy a few extra packs of tissues. But severe cases can make it hard for you to work, manage family activities, or venture outside at all during certain times of the year. This can lead to isolation, depression, anxiety, and a host of other problems.
Symptoms of Chronic Rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis symptoms can vary from person to person, but there are a few universal identifying symptoms. Given the name “rhinitis” (disease of the nose), a runny nose and nasal congestion are defining symptoms. You may also start sneezing uncontrollably, have drainage in your throat, or develop a cough.
Some people’s eyes swell up, water, and itch as a part of allergic rhinitis. The roof of your mouth, your nose, or your throat may begin to itch, too. You may also notice swollen, blueish bags under your eyes or that you’re exhausted all the time.
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What Causes Allergic Rhinitis?
So what’s causing all this misery every spring or summer? As the name suggests, allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction. This is effectively your body’s immune system overreacting to ordinarily harmless substances such as pollen or pet hair.
When your body comes into contact with a substance it deems dangerous, your immune system begins to produce antibodies against it. These antibodies are specialized proteins that are designed to take down a particular threat. In most cases, this is a good thing when your body is fighting a virus or bacteria-borne illness.
However, in the case of allergic rhinitis (and other allergies), your body makes antibodies for substances that pose no threat to you. When you encounter these triggers, those antibodies go to work and your body begins producing an allergic response. Your nose starts to run, your eyes water, and you have hay fever.
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Common Triggers of Rhinitis Symptoms
Many people have allergic responses to pollen, especially in the spring or summertime when plants are flourishing and pollen counts are high. Pollen can come from trees, grass, ragweed, and other such plants. Certain fungi can also produce spores that cause this reaction.
Outside of seasonal allergies, dust, mites, and cockroaches can cause allergic rhinitis. Pet dander may cause symptoms, and mold is a year-round trigger. If your symptoms seem worse in winter, these substances are likely the culprits since you’re shut up in your house more during these months.
Allergic Rhinitis vs. the Cold
Oftentimes, people may confuse allergic rhinitis with the common cold. And it’s easy to see why – both conditions produce a runny nose, congestion, coughing, and general misery. But the cold is a product of a virus, whereas allergic rhinitis is an allergic response to certain stimuli.
When you have a cold, you may notice that the fluid dripping out of your nose is somewhat yellow. Allergic rhinitis produces clear, watery mucus. You may also run a low-grade fever as a result of the common cold, whereas allergic rhinitis will not produce any fever.
Allergic Rhinitis vs. Sinusitis
Allergic rhinitis can also seem similar to a sinus infection, more properly known as sinusitis. Sinusitis is a condition in which the mucus in your sinuses, small cavities in the bones of your face, gets infected. You may notice similar symptoms between the two conditions – runny nose, congestion, drainage, fatigue, a cough, etc.
Once more, you’ll need to look at your mucus to determine the difference between the two. Sinusitis will produce a thick yellow or green mucus. The areas around your eyes, cheeks, nose, and forehead may also be tender when you have sinusitis.
Risk Factors for Veterans with Chronic Rhinitis
There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of suffering from allergic rhinitis. First of all, if you have asthma or other allergies, you are more likely to have a reaction to these common allergens. You might also be at increased risk if any close family members (parents or siblings) have allergies or asthma.
Certain conditions such as eczema can increase your risk of developing allergic rhinitis. If your primary caregiver smoked during your first year of life, you may also be at higher risk. And if you live in an environment where dust, animal dander, or cockroaches are constantly around, you may stand a greater chance of developing allergic rhinitis.
Complications from Allergic Rhinitis
In general, allergic rhinitis is not a dangerous condition; mostly it requires taking an over-the-counter antihistamine and keeping more tissues around. But there are certain complications that can stem from allergic rhinitis that may be more serious. Not least of these is the fact that it may increase your risk of contracting COVID-19.
If you have asthma, allergic rhinitis can make it worse and increase your chances of having an asthma attack. It may increase your risk of developing sinusitis and other respiratory conditions. And it may make it difficult for you to get as much sleep as you need, leaving you susceptible to the many hazards of chronic fatigue.
When to See a Doctor
Many of us tend to ignore allergic rhinitis symptoms until they go away, and most of the time, that works fine. However, there are some cases when you may need to visit a doctor. Schedule an appointment if you can’t get relief from your symptoms or if you have another respiratory condition that leaves you susceptible to greater complications.
You will also need to see a doctor if you believe your allergic rhinitis may qualify you for VA disability. The first step to getting VA disability compensation is getting an official diagnosis from a qualified doctor. So, if you think you may want to apply for compensation, go ahead and make an appointment the next time your nose starts running, even if you don’t think you need treatment from a doctor.
Qualifying for VA Disability
There are three things you will need to qualify for VA disability compensation. As we mentioned, the first of these is an official diagnosis from a VA-approved physician. Almost any licensed medical doctor will meet the required qualifications.
Once you have your diagnosis, you’ll need to be able to point to an incident in your service record that likely caused your condition. Then you will need to be able to provide a medical nexus connecting the two. This means you can’t get a concussion from a car accident twenty years after you left the service and file for VA disability compensation for a traumatic brain injury.
VA Disability Rating Schedules
If your application for VA disability is approved, you’ll receive a percentage rating for your condition. This will represent how much your condition impacts your ability to live a normal life. In many cases, it is also tied to how much your condition affects your ability to keep a normal job.
VA disability ratings range from 10 percent to 100 percent. If your allergic rhinitis is constant and is severe to the point that you have abnormal growths forming in your tissues, you will get a disability rating of 30 percent. If both of your nasal passages are 50 percent blocked or one is 100 percent blocked, you will receive a rating of 10 percent.
Your disability rating will be the primary factor in determining how much compensation you get from the VA each month. For instance, a disability rating of 10 percent will get you $152.64 each month tax-free. For disability ratings above 30 percent (which starts at $467.39 a month), the VA also begins to consider how many people financially depend on you to determine your compensation amount.
Getting a Diagnosis
The first step in your disability compensation journey will be visiting your doctor. Before you go for your appointment, make a list of all symptoms you commonly experience with your allergic rhinitis. Try to note how often they occur and what tends to trigger them so your doctor can give you the most complete diagnosis possible.
You may also want to bring your service record to your appointment so you can have your doctor confirm a medical link between your condition and an incident in your service record. They will need to certify that your condition was at least as likely as not caused by this incident. The exception to this rule is if you believe your allergic rhinitis may qualify as a presumptive condition.
Proving a Service Connection
Once you have your diagnosis, you will need to isolate a specific incident or set of conditions during your service that caused your condition. In certain conditions, allergic rhinitis may be ruled a presumptive condition. This means if you served in certain areas during specific periods of time, the VA assumes your condition is tied to your service.
For allergic rhinitis, common service connections may include working in dusty or smoky conditions. Extended exposure to smoke, dust, or mold can cause an allergic response to develop. You may also be able to get allergic rhinitis covered as a result of service-connected asthma.
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Tips for Applying
The biggest key to filing a successful disability compensation application is timing. As soon as you suspect you may have a service-connected condition, you need to make a doctor’s appointment. You may have a limited time after your symptoms appear to qualify for presumptive condition status or to apply for disability at all.
Make sure you show up for your Compensation and Pension exam – the first time if at all possible. Stay on top of making sure the VA has any information they need for your application. And consider hiring a lawyer who specializes in disability law to help you navigate the ropes.
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What to Do If Your Claim Is Denied
If your VA disability claim is denied, don’t give up. You can appeal your ruling all the way up to the BVA in Washington if needed. Make sure you move quickly on your appeal so you don’t miss any deadlines that could eliminate your eligibility.
You may also want to hire a lawyer to help you with your disability application appeal process. They can help you navigate deadlines and form requirements. They can also help you with some tips and tricks that will get you the greatest possible compensation amount.
Get Your Allergic Rhinitis VA Rating
Allergic rhinitis can be annoying at best and life-altering at worst. If you suffer from this condition, you may be eligible for VA disability compensation. Schedule an appointment with your doctor today and start getting your allergic rhinitis VA rating and the compensation you deserve.
If you’d like to get help with your disability claim or appeal, get in touch with us at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm. We fight for veterans every day and you don’t pay unless we win. Contact us today and make your disability application process easier and more successful than ever.