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Often referred to as “hay fever” or “nasal allergies”, rhinitis occurs when a person inhales allergens. This may lead to nasal itching, sneezing, discharge and stuffiness as well as itching roof of mouth or ears.
Allergic rhinitis is a very common medical problem affecting more than 15 percent of the population, both adults and children.
One-third of individuals with rhinitis do not suffer from allergies. Nonallergic rhinitis is typically seen in adults and symptoms last year-round. If your doctor concludes that your symptoms are not the result of allergies or another sinus problem, you may have nonallergic rhinitis.
Allergic rhinitis is triggered by allergens including, but not limited to, pollen, mold, dust and animal dander. When a person with allergic rhinitis breathes in an allergen, their body reacts by releasing chemicals that lead to allergy symptoms.
Allergic rhinitis may vary based on the time of year, since weather impacts the amount of pollen in the air. For example, on hot, dry days there will be more pollen and allergens in the air. On cool, damp days allergens and pollen are washed to the ground.
Symptoms rhinitis include:
Symptoms of allergic rhinitis vary from person-to-person, which is why it is important to make an appointment at a board-certified allergist to come up with the best treatment plan.
Your doctor may prescribe antihistamines to help reduce symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Allergy medications are typically most effective if begun before pollen is in the air and symptoms develop. Immunotherapy (allergy shots) may help provide long-term relief for individuals who suffer from allergic rhinitis. It’s important to speak with your doctor about the best treatment option for you.
Nonallergic rhinitis occurs when blood vessels in the sinuses fill with blood and fluid, causing a stuffy or runny nose. Unlike allergic rhinitis, this condition is not caused by allergens such as pollen, dust, pet dander, or mold. Symptoms also tend to be chronic rather than seasonal.
If you’re experiencing nasal discomfort, seek the advice of a board-certified allergist at Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center. Our medical professionals can determine the cause of your symptoms and create an effective treatment plan.
Exactly what triggers nonallergic rhinitis varies from person to person. However, the most common cause is an acute viral infection like the common cold.
Other triggers include:
Certain medications can cause nasal inflammation and swelling. These include:
Additionally, extended use of nasal decongestant sprays can trigger a specific type of nonallergic rhinitis called rhinitis medicamentosa or “rebound congestion.”
Common symptoms of nonallergic rhinitis include:
Based on these symptoms alone, it can be very difficult to distinguish between allergic and nonallergic rhinitis.
However, allergic rhinitis is typically accompanied by itchy eyes, nose, and throat whereas nonallergic rhinitis is not. Allergic rhinitis symptoms are also seasonal, whereas nonallergic rhinitis symptoms may persist year-round.
A board-certified allergist can diagnose your condition by conducting a physical exam and reviewing your medical history.
There are two main types of allergy tests:
Additionally, your doctor may suggest a nasal endoscopy. During this procedure, a small, flexible tube with a camera is passed through the nostril to examine the sinuses for swelling, bleeding, and polyps.
Nonallergic rhinitis can be very uncomfortable. To receive the relief you deserve, you must seek the advice of a board-certified allergist. This medical professional can help you understand the source of your symptoms and then develop a comprehensive treatment plan.
This plan may include:
Sometimes, nasal symptoms are linked to both allergic and nonallergic triggers. You may, for example, have a mold allergy but also a sensitivity to cigarette smoke. In these situations, your allergist may recommend oral allergy medications. Just keep in mind that allergy medications are most effective if taken before symptoms arise.
Additionally, your medical provider may suggest immunotherapy or allergy shots. Immunotherapy works by slowly exposing your immune system to known allergens over time.
For many people, nonallergic rhinitis is a chronic condition. That means it may come and go. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent flare-ups.
Many cases of nonallergic rhinitis are caused by environmental pollutants like cleaning products and cigarette smoke. To prevent symptoms, remove these substances from your home.
Irrigating your nose with saline every day can loosen mucus. It can also remove debris like dust and pollen from the sinuses. Just be sure to use sterile water.
Drinking enough fluid helps loosen mucus. This allows it to drain from your sinuses. Adding moisture to the air with a humidifier can offer a similar effect.
Most cases of nonallergic rhinitis are caused by viral infections. To prevent these illnesses, wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, and stay away from others who are sick.
Certain medications like beta-blockers and NSAIDs can cause nonallergic rhinitis. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may work with your prescriber to find a different medication.
Prescribed and over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays can offer fast relief. However, using these products for extended periods can actually make your nasal congestion worse.
Nonallergic rhinitis refers to nasal inflammation that occurs in response to a trigger like air pollutants, weather changes, and even stress. Unlike allergic rhinitis, this condition is not caused by seasonal allergies. The symptoms also tend to be persistent, lasting year-long.
At Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center, we understand how nonallergic rhinitis can interfere with daily life and are committed to providing patients with accurate diagnoses and effective treatment plans. To find relief from your symptoms, call 704-372-7900 or schedule an appointment online.