Nonallergic Rhinitis

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor


What is nonallergic rhinitis?

Nonallergic rhinitis is an inflammation which isn’t caused by an allergy. It happens in the inner part of the nose. Nonallergic rhinitis related symptoms including chronic sneezing or having a congested, drippy nose without an identified allergic reaction.

How common is nonallergic rhinitis?

Nonallergic rhinitis can affect children and adults but is more common after age 20. Allergic rhinitis is more common than nonallergic rhinitis; however, both conditions have similar features, manifestation, and treatment. Nasal itching and paroxysmal sneezing are usually more common in nonallergic rhinitis than allergic rhinitis.

This health condition is extremely common. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of nonallergic rhinitis?

If you have nonallergic rhinitis, you may have constant symptoms, or temporary symptoms. Signs and symptoms of nonallergic rhinitis may include:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Mucus (phlegm) in the throat (postnasal drip)
  • Cough

Nonallergic rhinitis doesn’t usually cause itchy nose, eyes or throat – symptoms associated with allergies such as hay fever.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Your symptoms are severe
  • You have signs and symptoms that aren’t relieved by over-the-counter medications or self-care
  • You have bother some side effects from over-the-counter or prescription medications for rhinitis

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes nonallergic rhinitis?

The exact reasons of nonallergic rhinitis are unknown. However, experts suggest nonallergic rhinitis occurs in conditions that make the blood vessels in your nose expanded (dilate), filling the nasal lining with blood and fluid. There are several possible causes of this abnormal expansion of the blood vessels or inflammation. The first one is that the nerve endings in the nose may be hyperresponsive, similar to the same way wit the lungs react in asthma.

Other causes are health problems that lead to nonallergic rhinitis.  They can be short-lived or chronic problems. Nonallergic rhinitis triggers include:

  • Environmental or occupational irritants. Dust, smog, secondhand smoke or strong odors, such as perfumes, can trigger nonallergic rhinitis.
  • Weather changes. Temperature or humidity changes can make the membranes inside your nose swell and cause a runny or stuffy nose.
  • Infections. A common cause of nonallergic rhinitis is a viral infection (a cold or the flu)
  • Foods and beverages. Eating is able to be a reason, especially when eating hot or spicy foods. Drinking alcoholic beverages also may cause the membranes inside your nose to swell, leading to nasal congestion.
  • Certain medications. Some medications can cause nonallergic rhinitis. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), and high blood pressure (hypertension) medications, such as beta-blockers.
  • Nonallergic rhinitis can also be triggered in people who are suffering from sedatives, antidepressants, oral contraceptives or drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction. Overuse of decongestant nasal sprays can create a type of nonallergic rhinitis called rhinitis medicamentosa.
  • Hormone changes. Hormonal changes because of pregnancy, menstruation, oral contraceptive use or other hormonal condition such as hypothyroidism have the ability to cause nonallergic rhinitis.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for nonallergic rhinitis?

There are many risk factors for nonallergic rhinitis, such as:

  • Exposure to irritants. If you’re exposed to smog, exhaust fumes or tobacco smoke, your risk of developing nonallergic rhinitis can be increased.
  • People is older than age 20. Contrary to allergic rhinitis, which usually occurs before age 20, often in childhood, nonallergic rhinitis occurs after age 20 in most people.
  • Prolonged use of decongestant nasal drops or sprays. Using over-the-counter decongestant nasal drops or sprays (Afrin, Dristan, others) for more than a few days can actually cause more severe nasal congestion when the decongestant wears off, often called rebound congestion.
  • F Because of hormonal changes, during menstruation and pregnancy, female usually get worse nasal congestion.
  • Occupational exposure to fumes. In some cases, nonallergic rhinitis is triggered by exposure to an airborne irritant in the workplace (occupational rhinitis). Some common triggers include construction materials, solvents, or other chemicals and fumes from decomposing organic material such as compost.
  • Having certain health problems. Some certain chronic health conditions can cause or worsen rhinitis, such as hypothyroidism and chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • some people may be triggered nonallergic rhinitis by emotional or physical stress

Diagnosis & Treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.


How is nonallergic rhinitis diagnosed?

Nonallergic rhinitis is diagnosed based on your symptoms and distinguished from other causes, especially allergies. Your doctor will perform a physical examination and ask questions about your symptoms.

Certain tests can be suggested. There are no specific tests used to diagnose nonallergic rhinitis. Your doctor will conclude your symptoms are caused by nonallergic rhinitis if you have nasal congestion, a runny nose or postnasal drip without any allergic results.

How is nonallergic rhinitis treated?

Treatment of nonallergic rhinitis is based on how much it disturbs you. For mild cases, home treatment and avoiding triggers may be enough. For more-bothersome symptoms, certain medications may provide relief, including:

  • Saline nasal sprays. This saltwater solution can flush the nose of irritants and help thin the mucus and soothe the membranes in your nose.
  • Corticosteroid nasal sprays. Fluticasone (Flonase) or triamcinolone (Nasacort) can be prescribed.
  • Antihistamine nasal sprays. While oral antihistamines don’t seem to help nonallergic rhinitis, nasal sprays containing an antihistamine may reduce the symptoms.
  • Anti-drip anticholinergic nasal sprays. The prescription drug ipratropium (Atrovent) is often applied as an asthma inhaler medication. But now, a nasal spray and can be helpful if a runny, drippy nose is your main complaint. Some noticeable side effects may include nosebleeds and drying of the inside of your nose.
  • Oral decongestants. These medications help narrow the blood vessels, reducing congestion in the nose. Possible side effects include high blood pressure, heart pounding (palpitations) and restlessness.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage nonallergic rhinitis?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with nonallergic rhinitis:

  • Avoiding rhinitis triggers
  • Using home remedies such as nasal irrigation
  • Taking over-the-counter and prescription medications
  • Allergy shots – immunotherapy – are not used to treat nonallergic rhinitis.
  • If you have nonallergic rhinitis, you are forced not to smoke
  • If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: March 12, 2017 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019

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