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Nonallergic (Vasomotor) Rhinitis

Nonallergic, noninfectious, or vasomotor rhinitis is a condition that results from inflammation of the nasal mucosa caused by factors such as temperature changes or irritants like perfumes and heavy smoke. Unlike typical allergies, this type of rhinitis can have multiple sources. Although it’s not often called “irritant rhinitis,” irritants can have a significant impact on the development of nonallergic rhinitis.

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Forms of Non Allergic Rhinitis

Acute rhinitis

Acute rhinitis, being characterized by inflammation and edema or a waterlogged state of the nasal mucous membrane, rhinorrhea, as well as constricted blood vessels in the head leads to sinus obstruction.

Chronic rhinitis

Chronic rhinitis is basically prolonged subacute (resolved in 30 to 90 days) inflammatory or infectious rhinitis. Infections that cause chronic rhinitis include syphilis, tuberculosis, rhinoscleroma, rhinosporidiosis, leishmaniasis, blastomycosis, histoplasmosis and leprosy—all of which are characterized by granuloma formation and destruction of soft tissue, cartilage and bone.

Vasomotor rhinitis

Vasomotor rhinitis, also referred to as nonallergic rhinitis, is a chronic condition in which intermittent vascular engorgement of the nasal mucous membrane leads to watery rhinorrhea and sneezing. The cause is not known with certainty, but a dry atmosphere seems to aggravate the symptoms.

Symptoms of Nonallergic Rhinitis

Nonallergic rhinitis is characterized by symptoms that come and go year-round, independent of seasonality or pollen count. Symptoms of nonallergic rhinitis include:

  • Stuffy, congested nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Postnasal drip (mucus running down the back of your throat)
  • Cough

Nonallergic rhinitis differs from allergic rhinitis because it does not usually cause other symptoms associated with hay fever, such as an itchy nose, itchy eyes, or itchy throat.

Causes of Nonallergic Rhinitis

The exact cause of nonallergic rhinitis is unknown. However, researchers do understand that it occurs when the blood vessels in your nose expand, filling the nasal lining with blood and fluid. Even though an exact cause is unknown, there are many things that can trigger your nonallergic rhinitis, including:

  • Environmental or occupational irritants such as dust, smog, secondhand smoke, or strong odors
  • Weather changes
  • Eating (especially when eating spicy foods) or drinking alcoholic beverages
  • Hormone changes and thyroid diseases
  • Stress
  • Certain medications (especially those that affect blood pressure or work to dilate/contract blood vessels)
  • Overuse of certain nasal sprays (especially decongestants)
  • Sleeping on your back, sleep apnea, or acid reflux

Diagnosis and Treatment of Nonallergic Rhinitis

Nonallergic rhinitis is typically diagnosed based on your symptoms and by ruling out other causes. At Frontier Allergy Asthma and Immunology, your allergist will discuss your medical history and perform a thorough physical examination to determine the next course of action. Certain tests may be recommended to determine if your rhinitis is allergic versus nonallergic in nature. While there are no specific tests that are used to diagnose nonallergic rhinitis, there are some tests that can be performed that can help rule out other possible underlying causes. Tests include blood or skin tests to rule out environmental allergies. If your doctor determines your rhinitis to be nonallergic, they will work closely with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that can help alleviate the symptoms of your nonallergic rhinitis. This may include over-the-counter or prescription nasal sprays.

Next steps

If you are interested in further discussion about your specific needs, Dr. Reshamwala is happy to see you and answer any questions you may have. Please call 512-382-1933 or email clinic@frontierallergist.com to schedule an appointment today! Book an appointment

Written by: Dr. Neha Reshamwala
NPI number: 1780874578
Page last reviewed: 03/20/21

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