Nonallergic Rhinitis

What is Nonallergic Rhinitis?

Nonallergic Rhinitis is the term used to describe a combination of symptoms resembling an allergic reaction that cannot be linked to a specific cause.  It is a very common condition, with as much as 25% of the adult population exhibiting symptoms. Oftentimes, the condition can only be confirmed after the possibility of other medical issues has been ruled out.

In some cases, however, a trigger can in fact be pinpointed. The most common causes are environmental elements including chlorine, car exhaust, cleaning solutions, cigarette smoke, latex, perfume, smog, hair spray, wood dust, and laundry detergents. Likewise, various medications such as antidepressants, NSAIDs, tranquilizers, ACE inhibitors, and oral contraceptives have been identified as catalysts. Other patients find their triggers in spicy foods, alcoholic drinks, changes in the weather, illegal drug use, or hormonal changes.

What are the Symptoms of Nonallergic Rhinitis?

Because there is often no identified cause, symptoms of nonallergic rhinitis can come and go throughout the year. Sometimes they can interfere to the point where it leads to decreased productivity at work or school and numerous doctor visits. Patients frequently report experiencing:

  • Postnasal drip
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Asthma
  • Loss of smell
  • Sleep apnea
  • Chronic ear infection

How is Nonallergic Rhinitis Treated?

There is no cure for nonallergic rhinitis. However, various therapies can help control it. The most effective method is to avoid rhinitis triggers altogether. In some cases, of course, that is not an option. These patients can employ home remedies like using a humidifier and nasal irrigation with a saline solution in conjunction with prescription or over-the-counter medications. Doctors may prescribe nasal antihistamines or glucocorticoids or sometimes both. Decongestants may help but are recommended as a last resort. Allergy shots are not an effective method for treating the condition. In more severe cases, surgery may be used to correct a deviate septum or remove nasal polyps to improve the condition.

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Last Reviewed:
October 07, 2016
Last Updated:
August 10, 2017