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What Is Nonallergic Rhinitis?

Rhinitis refers to inflammation inside the nose that causes swelling, itchiness, blockage, running, sneezing and other cold-like symptoms. When not caused by an allergen, this condition is known as nonallergic rhinitis. While the symptoms of allergic and nonallergic rhinitis are similar, the causes are very different.

Types of Nonallergic Rhinitis


Infectious Rhinitis

Infectious rhinitis is a viral infection caused by the common cold or flu. It causes the lining of the nose and throat to become inflamed, which triggers mucus production, sneezing and runny nose.

Vasomotor Rhinitis

Vasomotor rhinitis occurs when the blood vessels in the nose are too sensitive due to abnormal nerve control. Typically, the blood vessels inside the nose contract and expand to control the flow of mucus, but when the blood vessels are overly sensitive, environmental triggers can cause them to dilate, causing congestion and overproduction of mucus.

Common triggers include perfumes, paint fumes, smoke, temperature changes, alcohol, spicy foods and stress.

Atrophic Rhinitis

Atrophic rhinitis is caused when membranes inside the nose (called turbinates) become thick and hard, causing nasal passages to widen and dry out. The purpose of turbinate tissue is to keep the inside of the nose moist, protect against bacteria, and regulate air pressure. They also contribute to your sense of smell.

A crust can form inside the nose when a person experiences atrophic rhinitis, which may smell bad. Removal of this crusting may cause bleeding.

Atrophic rhinitis is most common in people who have had nasal surgery, especially multiple surgeries or one surgery with complications.

Rhinitis Medicamentosa

Rhinitis medicamentosa is caused by drug use, specifically overuse of decongestants, beta blockers, aspirin or cocaine. Nasal decongestants reduce swelling of blood vessels inside the nose and can cause inflammation when used after a cold has passed or when used for more than a week.

Treating Nonallergic Rhinitis

Nonallergic rhinitis usually goes away on its own without treatment. Some home remedies can ease discomfort, including:

  1. Rinsing the inside of the nose with saline solution. A Neti pot is helpful for this.

  2. Inhaling steam with a few drops of eucalyptus or tea tree oil.

  3. Running a humidifier in the room, especially during sleep.

  4. Avoiding environmental triggers, particularly smoke.

  5. Acupuncture may be helpful for some people.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Topeka ENT today!

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