Primary Care Doctor, General Practice, Ear Nose & Throat Surgery, General Otolaryngology (ENT)

Rhinitis

Introduction to Rhinitis

Rhinitis is inflammation and irritation of the membrane inside of the nose. It can be caused by infections with viruses and bacteria or can be as a result of an irritants or an allergic reaction.

Written by Doctify Team 27/04/2020

What is Rhinitis?

Rhinitis is inflammation and irritation of the membrane inside of the nose. It can be caused by infections with viruses and bacteria or can be as a result of an irritants or an allergic reaction to allergens. Allergic rhinitis is the commonest type and is responsible for a blocked, runny nose, sneezing and postnasal drip in conditions such as hayfever. It is extremely common and usually resolves by itself (e.g. hayfever and the common cold). In severe and recurrent cases, medical assistance and advice may be necessary.

What are the causes for Rhinitis?

Rhinitis can be categorised into infectious, non-allergic and allergic categories. The most common cause is an allergic reaction to an allergen (e.g. dust, pollen). The reaction in all categories varies significantly and depends on the severity of infection, allergic reaction or bodily response. Infections commonly cause rhinitis, for example, in the common cold. A sore throat, cough and headache can accompany rhinitis in this situation. Non-allergic rhinitis usually occurs as a result of medications, abnormal levels of hormones, occupational exposure or idiopathically (unknown cause).

What are the symptoms of Rhinitis?

As a result of the nasal mucosa becoming inflamed, there is excess mucus production and this causes blockage of the nasal cavity. The excess mucus can cause a runny nose and irritation leading to sneezing. Post-nasal drip can occur when the mucus accumulates at the back of the nose and throat. If rhinitis is part of an infection, there may be other symptoms presents such as a sore throat, cough, fever and headache.

How is Rhinitis treated?

The management of rhinitis depends on the underlying cause. In bacterial infections, antibiotics may be warranted if the infection is severe. Most of the time, rhinitis is due to a viral infection which is best left to resolve on its own. Allergic rhinitis can be treated with antihistamine medications and intranasal corticosteroids, which can dampen down the overactive immune response to the allergen. Preventing exposure to known allergens is the best management strategy in allergic rhinitis. Certain other types of nasal sprays may help clear congestion and relieve symptoms. Usually the symptoms resolve by themselves within a few hours to days. If the symptoms persist, your Doctor will be able to offer advice on the best treatment methods depending on the cause of the chronic rhinitis.

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