Chronic Rhinitis

Chronic rhinitis is a recurrent nasal blockage/discharge that doesn’t resolve on its own, and symptoms arise from the constant irritation or inflammation of the inner lining of the nose.  Postnasal drip is one of the most common characteristics of chronic rhinitis, which is mucus that accumulates in the back of the nose and throat that drips down from the back of the nose. Postnasal drip may lead to a chronic sore throat, a chronic cough, or throat clearing.

What are Symptoms of Chronic Rhinitis?

Symptoms of chronic rhinitis usually include:

  • Congestion
  • Mouth breathing
  • Sinus pressure
  • Sinus infections
  • Runny nose
  • Postnasal drip
  • Chronic cough
  • Sore throat

What is Allergic Rhinitis?

With allergic rhinitis (hay fever) symptoms often occur due to an allergic reaction to an allergen.  The most common allergens include seasonal pollens (from trees, grasses, and weeds), as well as perennial indoor allergens, such as dust mites, pet dander, and some molds.  Other allergens may include some workplace irritants. Food is not a common cause of allergic rhinitis in adults, but certain foods may cause nasal symptoms in some young children.  Symptoms generally include sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion and itching of the nose and throat. Nasal discharge is usually clear and watery.

Treatment for allergic rhinitis includes allergy medicine or immunotherapy (allergy shots).

What is Non-Allergic Rhinitis?

Non-allergic or vasomotor rhinitis is associated with changes in the central nervous system’s control of the blood vessels in the nose.  This overactive nerve in the nose stimulates the lining of the nose to become congested, runny, and have postnasal drip. As a result, people are more sensitive to various factors including changes in humidity or exposure to chemicals (i.e., fumes, smoke, drafts or wind).

How Do You Know Which Kind You Have?

If you only have symptoms at certain times of the year, you most likely have allergic rhinitis.  However, if the allergen is pet dander or house dust, you would have symptoms year-round, which is referred to as perennial allergic rhinitis.

People who have non-allergic rhinitis do not respond to allergy treatments and allergy testing is negative.  Unlike allergic rhinitis, non-allergic rhinitis doesn’t involve the immune system. And non-allergic rhinitis rarely causes an itchy nose, eyes or throat as the allergic form does.

What Else Can Cause Rhinitis?

Other causes of chronic rhinitis may include nasal obstructions, such as a deviated septum, a nasal polyp, or a foreign body (particularly in children), which can lead to congestion.  Sinus infections may also lead to nasal congestion and produce a colored nasal discharge.

How is Chronic Rhinitis Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of chronic rhinitis is based largely on symptomatic criteria.  Your ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and will examine your nose.

As part of your initial assessment, your doctor may order a sinus x-ray to see if a sinus infection is present.  Allergy skin testing may also be done to determine if certain allergens are triggering some or all of your nasal symptoms.

What Treatments Are Available for Chronic Rhinitis?

There are several options available to treat chronic rhinitis. The choice of treatment will take into account symptom severity and previous use of medication.

Your doctor may prescribe medications such as nasal antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids, or oral antihistamines to help alleviate your symptoms. There are also some home remedies like nasal irrigation that can help, as well as some over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays.

If you have specific triggers that cause your symptoms, your doctor may advise you to avoid those triggers–things such as wood-burning stoves and fireplaces, cleaning agents and household sprays, perfumes, and scented products.  Additionally, you may be advised to quit smoking or not to be around people who smoke, especially if this is one of your triggers.

Contact ENT of Parker at (303) 840-9690 to set up a consultation.