Chronic non-allergic rhinitis presents symptoms similar to colds, but with no apparent cause. The symptoms of non-allergic rhinitis are similar to those of hay fever (allergic rhinitis), but there is actually no allergen that causes discomfort. Non-allergic rhinitis can affect children and adults, but it is more common after 20 years of age. A certain diagnosis of non-allergic rhinitis is carried out after ensuring that there are no allergic constituents to trigger the problem. (1)
How Does Non-allergic Rhinitis Affect The Body?
If you suffer from non-allergic rhinitis, you probably have symptoms that come and go throughout the year. You can also experience constant symptoms that last for hours or symptoms that last for days. Signs and symptoms of non-allergic rhinitis may include:
Non-allergic rhinitis usually does not cause itching in the nose, eyes or throat (2)
Consult Your Doctor If:
- The symptoms are severe
- There are signs and symptoms of non-allergic rhinitis that are not relieved with over-the-counter medications
- There are annoying side effects from the drugs used to treat rhinitis
What Triggers Non-allergic Rhinitis?
Non-allergic rhinitis occurs when the blood vessels in the nose dilate, creating a nasal compression of the fluids. There are several possible causes of this abnormal expansion of blood vessels or inflammation of the nose. Irrespective of the reasons, the result is the same – swelling in the nasal membranes and congestion.
Many things can trigger nasal swelling in non-allergic rhinitis, some resulting in a short duration of symptoms, while others cause chronic problems.
Environmental Or Other Irritants: Dust, smog, passive smoke or strong odors, such as perfumes.
Climate Changes: Changes in temperature or humidity can trigger this problem.
Infections: A viral infection is a frequent cause of non-allergic rhinitis. Sometimes, this type of rhinitis can become chronic, causing nasal discharge, facial pain, and sinusitis.
Food And Drinks: It can occur when you eat, especially hot or spicy foods. Drinking alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine can also cause nasal congestion
Some Medications: Some medications can cause non-allergic rhinitis. These include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen, drugs for hypertension, and beta-blockers. In some people, sedatives, antidepressants, oral contraceptives or drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction can cause non-allergic rhinitis.
The abuse of decongestant nasal sprays can cause a type of non-allergic rhinitis called medicated rhinitis.
Stress: Emotional or physical stress can trigger non-allergic rhinitis in some people. (3) (4)
The factors that can increase the risk of non-allergic rhinitis include:
Exposure To Irritants: If you are exposed to smog, exhaust fumes or tobacco smoke, to name a few, you may be at risk of developing non-allergic rhinitis.
Being Over The Age Of 20: Unlike allergic rhinitis, which usually occurs before the age of 20, and often in childhood, non-allergic rhinitis occurs after the age of 20 in most people.
Prolonged use of decongestant or spray nasal drops.
Being Female: Because of hormonal changes, nasal congestion often comes during menstruation and pregnancy.
Occupational Exposure To Fumes: In some cases, exposure to an irritant in the air at work can cause a form of nonallergic rhinitis called professional rhinitis.
Having Health Problems: A number of chronic diseases can cause or worsen rhinitis, such as lupus, cystic fibrosis, and hormonal disorders. (2)
Complications Of Non-Allergic Rhinitis
Complications of non-allergic rhinitis include:
Nasal Polyps: Small polyps may not cause problems, but larger ones can block airflow through the nose, which makes it difficult to breathe.
Chronic Sinusitis: Prolonged nasal congestion due to non-allergic rhinitis can increase the chances of developing sinusitis.
Middle Ear Infections: Nasal congestion fluid can lead to middle ear infections.
Problems In Daily Activities: Non-allergic rhinitis can be disruptive. You can be less productive at work or at school.
Diagnosis Of Non-Allergic Rhinitis
Non-allergic rhinitis is diagnosed based on symptoms and excludes other causes, especially allergies and sinus.
Nasal Endoscopy: This test consists of looking inside the nasal cavity. (2)
Treatment For Non-Allergic Rhinitis
The treatment of non-allergic rhinitis depends on how strong the discomfort is. For mild cases, home treatment may be sufficient. For more annoying symptoms, some medications can provide relief, including:
Saline nasal sprays, Corticosteroids, Oral decongestants, Decongestant nasal sprays, and Oral antihistamines are usually administered.
In rare cases, surgical procedures may be an option to treat complication problems, such as a deviated nasal septum or nasal polyps.
- Vangool K, Hox V. Non-allergic rhinitis. Non-allergic rhinitis. 2019.
- Scadding GK, Kariyawasam HH, Scadding G, et al. BSACI guideline for the diagnosis and management of allergic and non‐allergic rhinitis (Revised Edition 2017; 2007). Clinical & Experimental Allergy. 2017;47(7):856-889.
- Groves M. Non-allergic perennial rhinitis: a family of disorders. 2017.
- Sur DK, Plesa ML. Chronic Nonallergic Rhinitis. American family physician. 2018;98(3).