Inflammation in the nasal passages is referred to as rhinitis, and rhinitis is generally considered to be either allergic (nasal allergies, hay fever, etc) or non-allergic.  Rhinitis is among the most common health conditions in the United States, affecting approximately 40 million people, and the majority never see a doctor for their symptoms, preferring to live with their symptoms or self-treat with over-the-counter medicines or other frequently ineffective methods.

Allergic rhinitis, or nasal allergies, implies that the symptoms that occur in a patient are the result of allergic reactions that take place in the nose.  When nasal allergies are due to allergy to pollens, the condition is frequently referred to as hay fever.  This is a misnomer, as fever rarely if ever occurs with nasal allergies.  Nasal allergies also commonly occur as a result of allergy to pets, including cats and dogs, as well as dust mites and mold (fungus).

Rhinitis may also occur due to nonallergic causes, and this condition may be more common that nasal symptoms due to allergy.  Common causes of nonallergic rhinitis include reactions to irritants, such as pollution or tobacco smoke; upper respiratory infections, including viruses (the common cold) or sinus infections; or nasal polyps.

The symptoms that occur with rhinitis can vary from patient to patient, and may fluctuate from very mild symptoms to severe symptoms, leading to missed work or school.  Symptoms include nasal congestion, runny nose, postnasal drip, sneezing, and nasal itching, and patients may experience primarily one symptom, or may experience a combination of several or all symptoms.

Diagnosis of rhinitis generally is made by taking a detailed history, obtaining a physical exam, and possibly performing an allergy test.

Once the cause of rhinitis is determined, it is readily treated, by utilizing a combination of patient education, avoidance measures, medications, and possibly allergy shots.  By correctly determining the correct cause of rhinitis and utilizing the appropriate treatment, Dr. Laurie is able to bring rhinitis under good control.

Have you been told you have rhinitis, or do you frequently take medicines to treat nasal symptoms?  Contact the Allergy and Asthma Center today!

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