Non-Allergic Rhinitis

Rhinitis is a medical term meaning inflammation of the nasal passages.

The inflammation can be caused by a variety of things. The common cold can cause this but usually resolves after the illness passes. Most chronic rhinitis is due to allergies but it can also be caused by certain medications, medical conditions or other unidentifiable factors.

Other types of non-allergic rhinitis include gustatory rhinitis which occurs suddenly after eating especially with spicy or heated foods and rhinitis medicamentosa which develops from the overuse of over the counter decongestant nasal sprays. It’s important to know that you should only use decongestant nasal sprays like Oxymetazoline (Afrin) or phenylephrine for 3-5 days for temporary relief.

The following symptoms can exist and are not known to have an allergic cause:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny Nose
  • Stuffy nose (Congestion)
  • Post nasal drip

Symptoms usually present year round although they may be worsened by certain weather conditions or temperature changes.

All the causes of non-allergic rhinitis are not known. Many things can be triggers including tobacco smoke, traffic fumes, strong odors, and perfumes as well as weather conditions. People usually are not bothered by pollen or pet dander.

What is the treatment?

Trigger avoidance- your board-certified allergist can help you identify your triggers.

Nasal rinsing and irrigation- with salt water (saline) solution can be helpful particularly for postnasal drainage.

Certain medications can cause or worsen nasal symptoms (especially congestion). These include birth control pills, high blood pressure medications, antidepressants, medications for erectile dysfunction and medications for prostate enlargement. Your doctor may be able to adjust your medications which may help relieve symptoms.

There are a variety of medicated nasal sprays that may effectively treat your nasal symptoms.

You should work with your board-certified allergist to help identify why you are having nasal symptoms and what the best treatment approach may be.