Non-allergic rhinitis is a medical term marked by a set of symptoms resembling nasal allergies and hay fever of unknown causes. Usually, it occurs in adult age after the age of 20 years, and symptoms last year-round. Unlike allergic rhinitis, non-allergic rhinitis does not develop due to a weak immune system. Certain odors, irritants in the air, changes in the weather, certain food items, some medicines, and chronic disease are factors known to trigger this condition. It cannot be cured completely.
Is Non-Allergic Rhinitis A Serious Condition?
Non-allergic rhinitis is a medical condition characterized by chronic sneezing, congestion, and drippy nose without apparent cause. The symptoms of non-allergic rhinitis show resemblance with hay fever (allergic rhinitis), but there is a complete absence of an allergic reaction. It can occur in children and adults, but it’s more observed after the age of 20 years. The exact cause of non-allergic rhinitis is not found yet. It is estimated that non-allergic rhinitis is triggered by certain odors or irritants in the air, weather changes, certain foods, some medications, and chronic diseases.(1)
Some of the possible causes of non-allergic rhinitis are-
- Viral infections, such as a cold or coryza that attack the lining of the nose and throat
- Hormone imbalances that occur during pregnancy or puberty
- Environmental factors like humidity, extreme temperatures, or exposure to hazardous fumes, such as smoke
- Hormonal medicines like HRT or the contraceptive pill(2)
The non-allergic rhinitis is represented by symptoms such as
- Blockage in the nose
- A runny nose sometimes stuffy nose
- Sneezing which is usually less severe than allergic rhinitis
- Mild irritation or discomfort in and around the nose
- Decreased sense of smell
In rare cases, it is observed that non-allergic rhinitis can lead to the formation of a crust inside the nose. It may cause a foul-smelling dour or cause bleeding if removed.(2)
Non-allergic rhinitis is not a serious condition, but it can influence one’s quality of life.(2) In some cases, non-allergic rhinitis can cause the following complications-
- Nasal polyps are harmless sacs of fluid that appear in the nasal passages and sinuses(2)
- Sinusitis is an infection that arose due to the inflammation in the nose and blockage in the sinus, preventing drainage of the mucus from the sinuses.(2)
- Middle Ear Infections are the infection of part of the ear situated directly behind the eardrum(2)
- Eustachian tube dysfunction(3)
- Loss of smell or anosmia
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Decreased efficiency at work
Side effects from the treatment, like nosebleeding, drowsiness, and nasal dryness(3)
These problems can be treated with medication, although surgery is recommended in severe or long-term cases.(2) The best treatment depends on the severity of the rhinitis and its causes. Rinsing the nasal passages with the use of a homemade solution or a medicinal solution can resolve the complications.
In some cases, a medicine like a nasal spray containing steroids is also recommended. Steroid nasal sprays can reduce congestion, which is taken for many weeks for effective treatment.(2)
Can Non-Allergic Rhinitis Be Reversed?
Non-allergic rhinitis is incurable, and it cannot be reversed. But it can be managed by following-
- Avoidance of risk factors of rhinitis
- Use of home remedies like nasal irrigation
- Consumption of over-the-counter and prescribed medications(3)
- Allergy shots or immunotherapy are not recommended for the treatment of non-allergic rhinitis.(3)
Non-allergic rhinitis is a disease of nose not caused by allergy or any specific cause. It is represented by chronic sneezing, although it is not a serious condition, in rare cases, it may complicate into asthma, sinusitis, and others mentioned above. It cannot be cured or reversed.
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