Non-Allergic Rhinitis – Frequently Asked Questions. What is non-allergic rhinitis?
Non-al ergic rhinitis is a group of conditions characterised by inflammation of the
nasal lining unrelated to the al ergic pathway of the immune system.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms are nasal blockage or congestion, a runny nose, sneezing and
nasal itching. Postnasal drip (mucus dripping into the throat from the back of the
nose) may also be present. Symptoms may fluctuate or be persistent.
What causes it?
The causes are not known. In some cases, an imbalance in the nerve signals to the
nose plays a role in producing symptoms. Non-al ergic rhinitis may be induced by
different factors in different patients. These factors include:
• Medications – aspirin and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), oral
contraceptive pil , blood pressure medications (ACE inhibitors, methyldopa),
• Physical factors – cold, dry air, exercise, elderly, radiation;• Chemical factors – swimming pools, smoking, occupational agents;• Hormonal factors – menstrual cycle, pregnancy, underactive thyroid;• Foods – hot, spicy foods, dyes, preservatives. How is it treated?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for non-al ergic rhinitis but there are effective
treatment options. General y, medical treatment is given first. If troublesome
symptoms persist, a combination of medical and surgical treatment may be offered. What medical treatment would you recommend? a) Medications for prevention
The mainstay is treatment with a steroid nasal spray, such as Nasonex and a Saline
rinse or spray daily. If other sprays don’t work, Rinar nasal spray may be given over
3 days and may improve symptoms for weeks afterwards. b) Medications for symptom relief
Antihistamine nasal sprays, such as Azep or Livostin, may help to reduce
symptoms of sneezing, itching, runny nose and nasal blockage. Atrovent nasal
spray helps to reduce runny nose and postnasal drip.
What do the medications do?
Saline rinses help to wash the irritants and mucus out of the nose, thereby reducing
inflammation. The steroid sprays reduce the inflammation directly. Atrovent spray
reduces the nasal mucus secretion. Rinar depletes the nasal nerves of their
chemical transmitters, thereby reducing al symptoms.
Are there any side effects?
Nasal sprays are general y wel tolerated. They may dry the nose and lead to some
bleeding, irritate the nose and throat or leave a bad taste. Some can worsen
Is there a surgical treatment for non-allergic rhinitis?
Initial surgery aims to improve blockage of the nose, reduce symptoms and to let the
sprays penetrate the nose more effectively. This al ows more effective topical medical
treatment of the inflammation causing the symptoms. Surgery is not a substitute to
medical treatment: it is important to continue the topical nasal sprays after surgery. In
selected patients, dividing the nerves supplying the nasal mucus glands may be
Want to know more about non-al ergic rhinitis? Please contact the Sydney Centre of Ear, Nose and Throat (SCENT) between 9am and 4pm on 02 9451 9883. Or visit
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