What is rhinitis?

Rhinitis is an exposure reaction to inhalants such as dust, pollen, smoke, animal dander, strong odors and chemicals. Temperature changes, along with fluctuations in humidity and stress may also be triggers. A family history may predispose individuals to be sensitive to certain indoor and outdoor allergens resulting in rhinitis. Although people aren’t born with allergies, they can develop symptoms with repeated exposure to an allergen. Rhinitis can be acute (lasting less than 2-3 months) or chronic (lasting more than 3 months).

What are symptoms of rhinitis?

Rhinitis symptoms generally vary with the season and may include:
  • Severe runny or stuffy nose
  • Post nasal drip with a persistent cough
  • Pain, tenderness, swelling and pressure around the forehead, cheeks, nose and between the eyes
  • Clear or slightly colored mucus
  • Behavioral changes such as insomnia, bed wetting or sleepwalking
  • Reduced sense of smell and taste
  • Specific to allergic rhinitis, itchy eyes, nose and throat

What causes rhinitis?

Typical triggers for rhinitis are:
  • Infections
  • Hot or spicy foods
  • Alcohol
  • Hormone effects (e.g. pregnancy, menstruation, menopause, hypothyroidism, oral contraception, etc.)
  • Drugs (e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen, beta-blockers, sedatives, erectile dysfunction medicines, overuse of decongestant nasal sprays)

How is rhinitis diagnosed?

In addition to your medical history and physical examination, Dr. Lieberman can diagnose rhinitis by:
  • Nasal endoscopy (inserting a flexible scope into the nasal passages)
  • CT scan
  • Allergy skin tests

How is allergic rhinitis treated?

While avoidance of the allergen is the most effective course of action, this is often impractical and Dr. Lieberman will suggest:
  • Saline nasal sprays
  • Antihistamines
  • Leukotriene blockers (e.g. Singulair)
  • Nasal steroid sprays for inflammation
  • Desensitization through allergy shots

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