Rhinitis simply means inflammation in the nose. The two most common types are allergic rhinitis and non-allergic rhinitis. Here we are discussing non-allergic rhinitis.
Non-allergic rhinitis produces cold-like symptoms that can leave you feeling miserable and worn down. It may take allergy testing to rule out hay fever and accurately diagnose non-allergic rhinitis.
What Causes Rhinitis?
Rhinitis is common and can have a variety of causes. Viruses, bacteria and other irritants can all cause symptoms. Some of the more common triggers include viral infections (colds and flu), changes in the weather, airborne irritants (dust, smog, perfume), foods and beverages (hot foods, spicy foods, alcohol), stress, hormonal changes (pregnancy, menstruation) and certain medications (aspirin, ibuprofen, beta-blockers).
What Are the Symptoms of Rhinitis?
Symptoms of non-allergic rhinitis are similar to those you experience with a cold. Runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing and postnasal drip are all common and may continue indefinitely or come and go. Unlike hay fever, non-allergic rhinitis doesn’t cause itchy eyes, nose or throat. Non-allergic rhinitis isn’t just bothersome; if untreated, it can cause acute sinusitis, chronic sinusitis and ear infections.
How Is Rhinitis Treated?
Your doctor will diagnose non-allergic rhinitis based on your symptoms and medical history and will want to rule out an allergic cause through skin and blood tests. Sinus problems present similar symptoms, so you may also need a nasal endoscopy or CT scan to rule out nasal polyps or a deviated septum.
The treatment your doctor prescribes depends on the severity of your symptoms. Mild rhinitis cases may respond to simple home remedies; irrigation of the nasal passages with a neti pot or bulb syringe, using a humidifier to moisten the air and drinking lots of liquids can all help. If you know which substance is causing your symptoms, avoid it if possible. It’s always a good idea to avoid cigarettes, e-cigarettes and alcohol.
Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription drugs. These include antihistamines, decongestants and saline and corticosteroid nasal sprays.
Call Albany ENT & Allergy Services at (518) 701-2085 for more information or to schedule an appointment.