Rhinitis means the lining of the nose is inflamed. You may have blocked nose, runny nose, mucus running from the nose into the throat (post nasal discharge), sneezing and an itchy nose.
Rhinitis can be allergic on non-allergic. Allergic rhinitis means your immune system is reacting to things that you breathe in (allergens) by making an allergic immune response including antibodies. Blood tests can diagnose allergic rhinitis by measuring the level of these antibodies in the blood. People with allergic rhinitis often have asthma, eczema and conjunctivitis.
Allergic rhinitis can be seasonal (hayfever) or perennial (this means every day of the year). Common allergens causing hayfever are grasses and pollens. Common allergens causing perennial allergic rhinitis are dust mite, pets and moulds in soils.
Non-allergic rhinitis can be triggered by irritants like cold temperatures, low humidity, hot or spicy foods, alcohol, strong chemical smells or odours, smoking or wood smoke and hormonal changes (pregnancy, menstruation) and is more common as people get older.
What treatments work?
For all kinds of rhinitis these three treatments work well:
- Avoiding the allergen or irritants.
- Rinsing the allergens and irritants away with saline.
- Steroid nasal sprays used every day while symptoms are active.
For allergic rhinitis there are two extra treatments:
- Anti-histamines: you can use eye drops, tablets or nasal sprays.
It’s safe to use all these medications on the same day and for people with severe rhinitis, it’s common to need to use all medications on days when your symptoms are severe.