November 29, 2015
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Chronic Rhinitis (cont.)

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Is rhinitis always related to allergies?

No, rhinitis may have many causes other than allergies.

Non-allergic rhinitis occurs in those individuals in whom an allergic or other cause of rhinitis cannot be identified, and the rhinitis occurs for weeks to months at a time for at least a year. These conditions may not have the other allergic manifestations such as, itchy and runny eyes and are also more persistent and less seasonal.

Forms of non-allergic rhinitis include:

  • Idiopathic rhinitis often does not have a specific cause identified, but commonly includes upper respiratory infections.
  • Vasomotor rhinitis is thought to occur because of abnormal regulation of nasal blood flow and may be induced by temperature fluctuations in the environment such as, cold or dry air, or irritants such as:
    • air pollution,
    • smog,
    • tobacco smoke,
    • car exhaust,
    • strong odors such as, detergents or fragrances, or
    • weather conditions (such as the arrival of a weather front).
  • Gustatory rhinitis may present predominantly as runny nose (rhinorrhea) related to consumption of hot or spicy food.
  • Rhinitis of pregnancy or, generally speaking, hormonal alterations as seen with pregnancy, menopause, and some thyroid changes have been linked to rhinitis.
  • Atrophic rhinitis following extensive sinus surgery or from a rare nasal bacterial infection.
  • Non-allergic rhinitis with nasal eosinophilia syndrome (NARES) is characterized by a clear nasal discharge. The nasal discharge is found to have eosinophils (allergic cell type), although the patient may not have any other evidence of allergy by skin testing or history or symptoms.

Occupational rhinitis may arise from exposure to irritants at a person's workplace with improvement of symptoms after the person leaves the workplace.

Other causes of rhinitis may be related to:

  • certain medications (oral contraceptives, some blood pressure medications, some anxiety medications, some erectile dysfunction medications, and some anti-inflammatory medications), or
  • some nasal structural abnormalities (deviated septum, perforated septum, tumors, nasal polyps, or foreign bodies).
Picture of sinus polyps (nasal polyps)

Infections, mostly viral, are a common cause of rhinitis. Viral rhinitis is usually not chronic and may resolve by itself.

Sometimes rhinitis may be related to other generalized medical conditions such as:

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/22/2015


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