Rhinitis

What is rhinitis?

Rhinitis is when a reaction occurs that causes a stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, and
itching. Most types of rhinitis are caused by an inflammation and lead to symptoms in
the eyes, ears, or throat. There are several types of rhinitis. The most common types of
rhinitis are:

  • Acute rhinitis, which is often caused by a viral illness
  • Allergic or seasonal rhinitis
  • Nonallergic or year-round rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is caused when allergens in the air trigger the release of
histamine in the nose and sinuses. Histamine causes itching, swelling, and fluid to
build up in the fragile linings of the nasal passages, sinuses, and eyelids. 

What causes rhinitis?

The most common causes of rhinitis are:

  • Pollen given off by trees, grass, and weeds
  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Cockroach waste
  • Animal dander
  • Fumes and odors
  • Extreme
    temperature or changes in temperature
  • Hormonal changes
  • Certain medicines and overuse of topical nose sprays
  • Changes in the environment
  • Irritants such as strong odors and tobacco smoke
  • Certain foods or spices 

Who is at risk for rhinitis?

People with asthma are at a higher risk for rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis is a common
problem that may be linked to asthma. But this link is not fully understood. Experts
think that since rhinitis makes it hard to breathe through the nose, it is harder for
the nose to work normally. Breathing through the mouth does not warm, filter, or
humidify the air before it enters the lungs. This can make asthma symptoms worse.

Asthma and allergies are also caused by many of the same chemical triggers in the body.

Controlling allergic rhinitis may help control asthma in some people.

What are the symptoms of rhinitis?

Symptoms of rhinitis include:

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy
    nose
  • Runny
    nose
  • Itchy
    nose, throat, eyes, and ears
  • Nosebleeds
  • Clear
    drainage from the nose
  • Ear
    infections that keep coming back
  • Snoring
  • Breathing through the mouth

How is rhinitis diagnosed?

Most
often, the diagnosis is made by your healthcare provider based on a full health history
and physical exam. In addition to the above signs, the healthcare provider may find:

  • Dark
    circles under the eyes (more common in children)
  • Creases under the eyes
  • Swollen tissues inside the nose
  • Mouth breathing