What Is Nonallergic Rhinitis?

Rhinitis is inflammation of the nose that causes cold-like symptoms such as itchiness, congestion, running and sneezing. Allergic rhinitis is caused by an environmental trigger (allergen), and nonallergic rhinitis can have a variety of causes. While symptoms of these two conditions are similar, treatment depends on the underlying cause.

Symptoms of Nonallergic Rhinitis

man holding tissue to nose

Signs and symptoms of nonallergic rhinitis include:

  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal pain
  • Postnasal drip

It is important to note that, unlike allergic rhinitis, nonallergic rhinitis does not usually involve itchy nose, eyes or throat.

Risk Factors for Nonallergic Rhinitis

There are many factors that can exacerbate symptoms of nonallergic rhinitis.

Irritants such as tobacco smoke, smog, exhaust fumes, airplane fuel and solvents can increase risk of symptoms.

Eating spicy foods has also been associated with nonallergic rhinitis.

Women are more susceptible to nonallergic rhinitis during menstruation and pregnancy.

Certain medical conditions like lupus, cystic fibrosis, hormonal disorders and asthma also increase risk of nonallergic rhinitis.

Types of Nonallergic Rhinitis

There are four types of nonallergic rhinitis.

  • Infectious rhinitis is caused by an infection, such as the common cold.
  • Vasomotor rhinitis occurs when blood vessels in the nose are too sensitive.
  • Atrophic rhinitis results when turbinate tissues become thin and hard.
  • Rhinitis medicamentosa is caused by use or overuse of certain drugs.

Diagnosing & Treating Nonallergic Rhinitis

Diagnosing nonallergic rhinitis is mostly done by ruling out other possible conditions.

Infectious rhinitis shares many symptoms as the cold or flu. Since there is no cure for infectious rhinitis, a cold or the flu, the doctor will encourage you to rest and hydrate. Nasal decongestants can ease symptoms.

Vasomotor rhinitis has similar symptoms to allergies, so the doctor may perform an allergy test to rule it out as the cause of symptoms. It is best to avoid environmental triggers of vasomotor rhinitis.

Atrophic rhinitis causes nasal crusting, widening of nasal passages, foul smell and loss of smelling ability. A doctor may suggest antihistamines, anticholinergics or sodium cromoglicate nasal sprays to manage symptoms.

Rhinitis medicamentosa is often caused by overuse of nasal sprays. The doctor may recommend a “wait and see” approach.

For more information about nonallergic rhinitis or to schedule an appointment, call Nevada Ear + Sinus Institute today!

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