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Is Nonallergic Rhinitis A Disability & Can You Die From It?

Nonallergic rhinitis is a condition where signs appear that resemble allergic rhinitis and hay fever. However, the exact cause is not always known and specific. Irritants, food and drink, and hormonal changes are some of the known risk factors for Nonallergic rhinitis. Chronic sneezing and a chronic stuffy nose are some of the symptoms of non-allergic rhinitis. Various self-care tips and medicines relieve chronic complaints that occur with this disorder. Non-allergic rhinitis is occasionally accompanied by complications, such as problems with the sense of smell and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome 1.

Is Nonallergic Rhinitis A Disability & Can You Die From It?

Is Nonallergic Rhinitis A Disability & Can You Die From It?

Nonallergic rhinitis is not a fatal disease and it cannot cause death or disability to the patient. However, it can cause severe irritation and hamper the quality of the patient’s life. So you may not die from the disease but it will still cause a lot of discomfort. Moreover, the disease often is associated with other conditions, therefore, triggering problems, therefore delaying recovery from other life-threatening conditions. (1)

The diagnosis is based primarily on typical symptoms such as persistent nasal congestion and high mucus production in the nose, even when the patient has not caught a cold or has other causes such as allergies. The disease differs from allergic rhinitis in that the typical itching in the nose and eyes is rarer and the symptoms usually appear later (more than 70% of those affected are older than 20 years). The nasal congestion is more pronounced, and the symptoms occur all year round.

To rule out allergic rhinitis, an allergy test can be performed. A physical examination and possibly further tests are made if there is a suspicion of another underlying disease.

Common Treatment Options For Nonallergic Rhinitis

The main goal of the therapy is to improve the air passage, reduce mucus production and, if possible, minimize the triggering factors. The triggering factors must be eliminated to offer relief to the patient. Depending on the trigger you should:

  • Avoid dusty environments
  • Have any underlying sinus infection treated
  • Stop smoking or at least reduce consumption

Saline should be used to cleanse the nose. You can either drop the saline solution into your nose or inhale carefully through the nose. There are ready-made saline solutions or the corresponding nose drops available.

Commercially available nasal drops with decongestant agents only cause additional irritation in the disease and should therefore only be used when absolutely necessary (other options are not offering relief) and not for long.

Viral rhinitis can be symptomatically treated with decongestants (either local vasoconstriction with a sympathomimetic amine. Antihistamines (stabilizers for inhaled nasal mast cells) may be useful, but those with anticholinergic properties will dry out the mucous membranes and may increase irritation. (4)

Non-Allergic Rhinitis Is Also Associated With:

  • Side effects of the treatment, such as sleepiness, a bloody nose, and a dry nose
  • Reduced productivity at work
  • Increase in the number of doctor visits

Causes Of Non-Allergic Rhinitis

Often the cause of non-allergic rhinitis remains unknown. Non-allergic rhinitis appears when blood vessels in the nose expand (dilate), causing the nasal wall to swell. This stimulates the mucous membranes in the nose, causing it to become blocked and dripping.

Non-allergic rhinitis can happen due to:

  • Drug Rhinitis: with prolonged use decongestant or as a side effect of other medicine called anamnesis
  • Hormonally Induced rhinitis (during pregnancy)
  • Idiopathic Rhinitis: with unknown cause
  • Rhinitis due to smoking
  • Rhinitis In The Elderly: runny nose with no apparent cause from the age of 65 (arbitrary)
  • Unilateral Nasal Obstruction (consider tumor as a possible cause) (2)

Symptoms Of Non-Allergic Rhinitis

Usually, the condition develops into adulthood and the symptoms persist throughout the year. Symptoms that often manifest in non-allergic rhinitis are:

Non-allergic rhinitis usually does not cause an itchy nose, itchy eyes or an itchy throat, while these symptoms do occur with allergies (allergic rhinitis) such as hay fever. (3)


  1. Settipane RA, Charnock DR. Epidemiology of rhinitis: allergic and nonallergic. Nonallergic Rhinitis: CRC Press; 2016:45-56.
  2. Vangool K, Hox V. Non-allergic rhinitis. Non-allergic rhinitis. 2019.
  3. Groves M. Non-allergic perennial rhinitis: a family of disorders. 2017.
  4. Lieberman PL, Smith P. Nonallergic rhinitis: treatment. Immunology and Allergy Clinics. 2016;36(2):305-319.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 2, 2019

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