Nonallergic Rhinitis

1 What is Nonallergic Rhinitis?

Non-allergic rhinitis is characterized by congested, runny nose or chronic sneezing without any apparent cause. 

Its symptoms are similar to the symptoms of allergic rhinitis or hay fever, but the usual evidence of an allergy attack is absent. 

Both children and adults can be affected by nonallergic rhinitis, but it is more common on adults aged 20 and up. 

Triggers may vary and can include irritants in the air, certain odors, weather changes, certain foods, health conditions, and some medications. 

Diagnosing a nonallergic rhinitis can only be made after ruling out possible allergic causes. Diagnostic tests usually involve blood tests and allergy skin tests.

2 Symptoms

Nonallergic rhinitis usually have symptoms that come and go all year round. The symptoms can either be constant, or can last for a short period only. 

These signs and symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Postnasal drip

Nonallergic rhinitis can be distinguished from an allergy attack by the lack of itchiness on the nose, eyes, or throat.

3 Causes

Nonallergic rhinitis causes are still unknown. But it is found out that it takes place when the blood vessels in the nose become dilated and the nasal lining become filled with fluid and blood. 

Several possible triggers are linked to nonallergic rhinitis. These include:

  • Environmental or occupational irritants. Secondhand smoke, dust, smog, and strong odors like perfumes can be a trigger for nonallergic rhinitis. Toxins and chemical fumes may be to blame, as well. 
  • Changes in weather. Changes in humidity and temperature can cause the nasal membranes to swell, causing the symptoms of nonallergic rhinitis.
  • Infections. Viral infections, such as cold and flu, are a common cause of allergic rhinitis.
  • Foods and beverages. Eating hot and spicy foods can sometimes trigger nonallergic rhinitis, as well as drinking alcoholic beverages. 
  • Certain medications. Medications that have impact on blood vessels, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and hypertension medications can trigger nonallergic rhinitis.
  • For some people, taking sedatives, oral contraceptives, and antidepressants can also cause nonallergic rhinitis, as well as the overuse of decongestant nasal sprays.
  • Hormonal changes. Changes in hormones that usually happen during pregnancy, menstruation or because of contraceptive use may cause nonallergic rhinitis. 
  • Hypothyroidism and other hormone-related conditions may also trigger it.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Nonallergic rhinitis can be diagnosed based on the symptoms and by ruling out allergic rhinitis first. Physical examinations and several questions may help your doctor come up with a precise diagnosis. 

Certain tests, such as allergy skin test may be done to rule out allergic rhinitis. Your doctor may also prescribe medications for allergic rhinitis to see if your symptoms are improving with them or not.

5 Treatment

Treatment options for nonallergic rhinitis basically depend on how much the condition bothers you. 

Sometimes, avoiding possible triggers and basic home care are enough, particularly for mild cases. However, if your symptoms become more bothersome, medications like the following may provide relief:

  • Saline nasal sprays. Over-the-counter nasal spray or homemade saline solutions can be used to flush irritants out and help soothe nasal membranes. 
  • Corticosteroid nasal sprays. If simple antihistamines and decongestants won’t work, nonprescription corticosteroid nasal spray like fluticasone or triamcinolone may work wonders. Your doctor may also give you prescription-strength sprays. 
  • Corticosteroid medications. Rhinitis-related inflammation can be treated and prevented with corticosteroid medications. Side effects, however, are always possible. 
  • Antihistamine nasal sprays. Oral antihistamines usually do not have any effect to nonallergic rhinitis, but antihistamine nasal sprays may reduce its symptoms. 
  • Anti-drip anticholinergic nasal sprays. For runny nose, this could be very helpful. Side effects may include drying of the inside of the nose and nosebleeds. 
  • Oral decongestants. These medications can reverse blood vessel dilation and reduce nasal congestion

These are available over-the-counter-or by prescription. High blood pressure, palpitations, and restlessness are among possible side effects.

6 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

A few alternative and homeopathic remedies exist for managing the symptoms of nonallergic rhinitis.

Some studies show that the use of capsaicin or applying it directly inside the nose can help with the decongestion. Capsaicin is the ingredient responsible for the “hotness” of hot peppers.

7 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with nonallergic rhinitis.

Here are several factors that increase your risk for nonallergic rhinitis attacks:

  • Exposure to irritants. Exposure to irritants like smog, cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes, and chemical fumes may increase your risk of having nonallergic rhinitis. 
  • Age. Although nonallergic rhinitis affects all ages, it is more prominent in people aged 20 and above. 
  • Extended use of decongestants. Decongestant nasal sprays can cause more severe symptoms when used excessively. This is called rebound congestion.
  • Gender. Being female puts you at higher risk due to changes in hormones, which can trigger nonallergic rhinitis.
  • Certain health problems. Chronic fatigue syndrome and hypothyroidism are just a few of the chronic health conditions that can cause rhinitis.
  • Stress. Stress, both emotional and physical, may trigger rhinitis in some people. 


In severe cases, nonallergic rhinitis may cause several complications, such as nasal polyps, sinusitis, and middle ear infections. 

Nonallergic rhinitis can also disrupt daily activities, making you less productive at school or work.

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