What is vasomotor rhinitis?


Know the basics

What is vasomotor rhinitis?

Vasomotor rhinitis or commonly known as non-allergic rhinitis is defined as an inflammation of the nasal mucosa which involves chronic sneezing or a congested, drippy nose with no apparent cause.  Vasomotor rhinitis is not life-threatening. For those affected with the condition, the symptoms can be uncomfortable, but they are not serious.

How common is vasomotor rhinitis?

Vasomotor rhinitis is extremely common. Although it can affect patients at any age, it commonly affects adults who are older than 20 years of age. Female are at double risk of vasomotor rhinitis comparing to male. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of vasomotor rhinitis?

The symptoms of vasomotor rhinitis may come and go throughout the year. The symptoms may last several weeks or may be last long if it is not treated. The common symptoms of vasomotor rhinitis usually include:

  • Postnasal drip or mucus in the throat;
  • Runny nose;
  • Sneezing;
  • Stuffy nose.

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 do not go away by over-the-counter (OTC) medications or home-care.
  • You have bother some side effects from over-the-counter or prescription medications for vasomotor 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.

Know the causes

What causes vasomotor rhinitis?

Vasomotor rhinitis occurs when the blood vessels inside your nose dilate. This expansion can lead to swelling, can cause congestion and fill the nose with mucus. It is not known what causes the blood vessels in the nose to swell. Some common triggers that may produce this reaction include:

  • Irritants in the environment such as perfumes, odors, smog, or secondhand smoke;
  • Change in the weather and particularly dry weather;
  • Viral infections such as those associated with a cold or flu;
  • Consumption of hot or spicy foods or drinks;
  • Usage of medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen;
  • Hormonal changes due to pregnancy, menstruation, oral contraceptive use or other hormonal condition such as hypothyroidism.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for vasomotor rhinitis?

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

  • Exposure to irritants like smog, exhaust fumes or tobacco smoke.
  • Being older than age 20:unlike allergic rhinitis, vasomotor rhinitis usually 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.
  • Being female:due to hormonal changes, nasal congestion often gets worse during menstruation and pregnancy.
  • Having certain health problems:a number of chronic health conditions can cause or worsen vasomotor rhinitis, such as hypothyroidism and chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Stress:emotional or physical stress may trigger vasomotor rhinitis in some people.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

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

How is vasomotor rhinitis diagnosed?

If you have symptoms of vasomotor rhinitis, your doctor will first perform different tests to see if your rhinitis is due to an allergy or other health problem. After ruling out all other possible causes, your doctor might diagnose vasomotor rhinitis if you have nasal congestion, a runny nose or postnasal drip, and tests for other conditions that do not reveal an underlying cause such as allergies or a sinus problem.

For detecting allergic problems, your doctor may perform allergy tests (skin prick test and blood test).

In some cases, a CT scan of the sinuses may be required to exclude chronic sinusitis or polyposis. It is important to have an accurate diagnosis so you can manage your condition appropriately. Because the symptoms are so similar, allergy testing is often recommended to rule out allergic rhinitis.

How is vasomotor rhinitis treated?

If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may prescribe other medications to help control your symptoms. Prescription medications that can be used to treat vasomotor rhinitis include:

  • Saline nasal sprays;
  • Corticosteroid nasal sprays such as fluticasone (Flonase) or triamcinolone (Nasacort);
  • Antihistamine nasal sprays such as azelastine (Astelin, Astepro) and olopatadine hydrochloride (Patanase);
  • Anti-drip anticholinergic nasal sprays such as ipratropium (Atrovent);
  • Oral decongestant medications such as pseudoephedrine.

In some cases, surgery to remove nasal polyps or correct a deviated septum can improve the effect of vasomotor rhinitis medications. Surgery is only considered when other treatments have failed to reduce symptoms.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

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

If you have vasomotor rhinitis, there are some remedies that you can use to treat the condition at home. Examples include:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) saline nasal sprays;
  • OTC decongestants such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine;
  • OTC antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), clemastine, or loratadine (Claritin);
  • OTC corticosteroid nasal sprays such as fluticasone.

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: December 18, 2016 | Last Modified: April 17, 2017