Rhinolight endonasal phototherapy

Endonasal phototherapy for nose and sinus allergy

For decades U/V phototherapy has been used to treat skin problems as psoriasis and severe cases of atopic dermatitis (eczema). The inflammatory effect that occurs in eczematous skin is very similar to the changes seen as a result of inhalent allergic challenge to the nasal lining e.g. grass pollen hay fever.

In 2001, the developers of Rhinolight® adapted this existing treatment for use within the nasal passages. Endonasal U/V phototherapy used a combination of UV-B (5%), UV-A (25%) and visible light (70%) treat the inflammation and tissue swelling that occurs within the nose due to recurrent allergic challenge. This is considered a safe range of UV light for medical therapy and causes neither heat nor pain on the treated surface. This reduces the reactivity of the nasal mucosa to all allergens and therefore results in reduced nasal congestion, runnyness and sneezing. It may help restore the sense of smell when nasal mucosal swelling has compressed the Olfactory nerve. Reducing nasal inflammation may also help reduce the development of allergically driven nose polyps.

During the initial studies both standard anti-allergy medications and phototherapy were combined. As patient symptoms significantly improved it was decided to use Rhinolight® only. There was as much patient satisfaction with Rhinolight® alone as with the combination of Rhinolight® and anti-allergy medications. Rhinolight® was found to be effective in treating both allergic and non allergic rhinitis. Indeed Rhinolight® phototherapy is effective for any kind of allergic rhinitis regardless of the triggering allergen e.g. pollen, house dust mite and animal hair.

 Rhinolight® is used for short, sharp treatments with the benefits lasting for months or years. 

Rhinolight endonasal phototherapy

Further Information

The Immunological Effects of Phototherapy
  • Blocks histamine release from mast cells.
  • Induces apoptosis of eosinophils and lymphocytes.
  • Reduces the number of eosinophil cells.
  • Reduces the quantity of ECP and IL-5 in nasal secretions.

In simple English this means it blocks the release of the chemical histamine (a major cause of allergy symptoms in the nose and sinuses) from the mast cells lining the nose and sinus surfaces. Apoptosis means it destroys cells called eosinophils and lymphocytes that also cause allergy problems in the nose and sinuses. These cells are not vital for normal nasal function. Rhinolight® phototherapy also reduces the number of allergy triggering cells involved in rhinitis and sinusitis. Rhinolight® does not damage healthy nasal tissue and thus can be safely used as a long term treatment in allergic conditions affecting the nose and sinuses.

Why do you recommend Rhinolight® endonasal phototherapy?

While we can achieve good symptom control with medication, most peoples symptoms return as soon as the medication is stopped or sometimes even with a small reduction of dosage. Until Rhinolight® endonasal phototherapy, medications were always required to keep symptoms under control. Rhinolight therefore offers patients an excellent long term drug free alternative. Rhinolight® can be considered an extra but exciting new therapy in the battle to control allergy symptoms. No-one, patient or treating doctor likes using/prescribing long term medication. Until now that was the only option. With Rhinolight® we have a significant alternative.

Rhinolight® has CE mark approval. CE marking means that the product and treatment meets the essential requirements of all relevant European Medical Device Directives. This is a legal requirement in the European Union. There are many medical reports on Rhinolight® phototherapy and you can source these online

Are there side-effects to Rhinolight® treatment?

Rhinolight® therapy targets the allergy cells lining the nasal lining with a safe range of U/V and natural light so there is no risk of side effects. It does NOT damage the healthy nasal lining or normal cells that line the nose/sinuses. The treatment is ideal for people who cannot take medication during pregnancy/breastfeeding and athletes who are restricted from taking certain medications.

Occasionally, short lived dryness of the nasal lining might occur, which can easily be prevented or cured using a moisturising nasal spray / gel.

Some patients do experience side effects from anti-allergy drugs be they oral antihistamines, anti-leukotrienes (Singulair, Montelair) or steroid nasal sprays.

What happens during a Rhinolight® treatment?

When a doctor examines your nose he/she shines a bright light into the nostrils using a hand held battery powered light source. Rhinolight® therapy looks pretty much the same. Using a special hand held device U/V and natural light is directed inside the nostrils using circular ‘sweeping’ motions to ensure all the nasal lining is treated. You can see this in action on You Tube.

Before starting the patient must blow the nose properly.  If the nose is blocked a vasoconstrictor (unblocking) spray such as Otrivine may be advised before treatment.  (Otrivine 1 or 2 ‘squiffs’ into each nostril 1 hour beforehand).

Rhinolight® treatments must be administered within two consecutive weeks. 4-8 treatments in total can be administered over that two week period depending on the type and severity of allergic rhinitis. The treatment time is short and lasts for only 2-3 minutes/nostril.  

How many treatment sessions are needed for recovery?

Usually 2 treatments a week during 3 or 4 consecutive weeks are enough. In case of allergies dragging on throughout the year, (e.g. house dust mite allergy and grass/tree pollen allergy), 8 treatments are recommended during 4 consecutive weeks.  This may need to be repeated once a year (or more for severe allergy sufferers).  For grass pollen hay fever an initial treatment in late April/early May might offer enough protection for the summer.  However for those also allergic to late flowering shrubs a ‘booster’ treatment of 2 – 3 sessions may be needed.  This can only be decided from season to season due to varying weather conditions.  A typical treatment program is set out further on in this information section.

Can the Rhinolight® treatment result complete recovery?

Patients receiving the treatment for several years have a decreasing level of symptoms and some of them have completely recovered.

What is the theoretical base of the treatment?

Rhinolight® treatment decreases the level of immune response (allergic response) in the nose/sinuses from allergy ‘attacks’ such as occurs during the pollen season. The mode of action can be considered the same as spraying steroid nose sprays against the nasal lining. However, while these sprays are effective they do require daily application. Rhinolight® is used for short, sharp treatments with the benefits lasting for months (or longer). There are many medical reports on Rhinolight® phototherapy and you can source these online. and you can chack some of them out on the pdf here.

Is the treatment painful?

No. It’s over within ten minutes (3 minutes each nostril).

How long does it take to become fully effective?

This varies from patient to patient and relates to the severity of the nasal/sinus issue, length of time troubled with allergy symptoms and age of patient. I expect that children will respond quicker than adults. That said, some adult allergy sufferers report significant improvement after even the first treatment. In rare cases symptoms intensify after the first treatments. Fortunately this doesn’t last and settles soon. Almost every patient reports progress within two weeks.

Is Rhinolight® treatment safe to use during pregnancy?

Yes, indeed it is very often the preferred treatment modality used during pregnancy when oral and inhaled medicines are avoided or used only with extreme caution. 

It is noteworthy that during pregnancy hormonal changes often lead to the worsening of rhinitis symptoms.

Can Rhinolight® be used while breastfeeding?

Yes, the treatment does not get absorbed further than the nose and therefore it cannot transfer to a baby being breast fed.

Can the Rhinolight® treatment be administered to athletes?

Yes. It is particularly useful for elite athletes whose are unable to avail of standard medication treatment options due to onerous anti-doping supervision.

Can the Rhinolight® treatment be administered along with other anti-allergy medicines?

Yes.  Rhinolight® can be used to complement whatever anti-allergy medication you are taking. Rhinolight® will often reduce your need for ongoing anti-allergy medications.

Can the Rhinolight® treat allergy to animal hair and dust mite?

Yes, Rhinolight® is a treatment of the nasal lining of patients suffering from allergic rhinitis regardless of what allergen triggers the problem.

Is it similar to other commercially sold medical lamps?

No. Rhinolight® is s specially tailored light therapy designed by medical doctors experienced in U/V therapy.  Other lamps sold in shops or online for home use do not have the same efficacy as Rhinolight® and may not be safe. Only medical doctors can administer treatment with Rhinolight®. At present, no other phototherapy has been unequivocally proven to be as efficient in the treatment of allergic rhinitis as Rhinolight®. 

Is Rhinolight® treatment guaranteed to be successful?

No. There are no guarantees of success but based on the results of the many thousands of patients already treated with U/V phototherapy there is every reason to be optimistic that this will be a successful strategy for your nose/sinus issues.

Is Rhinolight® treatment covered by any health insurance company such as VHI, Laya, Glo-Health, Garda Medical Aid or ESB scheme?

No. Unfortunately, you will not be specifically reimbursed for allergy testing or treatments such as Rhinolight. Depending on your policy, some insurers may cover your consultation fees or part of them. 

For any part of your expenses not covered by your insurer, you should be able to claim against tax through the Irish Governments Revenue Online Services (ROS).

I have two children (or even more) who might benefit from this treatment but to deal with them all would be too expensive. Do you offer fee reductions for more than one member of same family having treatment?

Yes. If two members of same family are having this treatment AND turning up at the same time for the sessions then we will charge ½ price for the second member. For more than 2 members of same family contact allergyireland@slievemore-clinic.com for advice.