< Back



The term rhinitis means inflammation of the nasal mucous membranes.

Symptoms include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itching of the eyes, nose, and throat

The symptoms are similar to those of a cold, but they usually last longer. There are two types of rhinitis: allergic and non-allergic rhinitis.

Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is an overreaction to particles in the air. Common causes of allergies include:

  • Pollen
  • House dust mites
  • Mold or mildew
  • Animal hair
  • Tobacco smoke

Seasonal allergic rhinitis occurs when the plants to which you are sensitive pollinate. Perenial allergic rhinitis occurs year-round and symptoms are nearly always present.

Non-allergic Rhinitis

This inflammation of the nose does not result from an allergic reaction.

Symptoms can result from:

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Pollutants and fumes
  • Overuse of constricting nasal sprays or drops
  • Pregnancy
  • Food
  • Cold temperature
  • Rhinitis is diagnosed through a medical history and physical examination.


The best therapy is to avoid the substance that causes the symptoms. You can sometimes discover the cause of your rhinitis by keeping a record of the plants, animals, foods, chemicals, or conditions that seem to trigger your symptoms.

In general, to protect against pollen, dust, or mold you can:

  • Keep your house as dust-free as possible
  • Change the furnace filter regularly
  • Clean mold out of the bathroom and kitchen
  • Keep your home well ventilated (except when pollen counts are high)
  • Avoid yard work that stirs up dust, especially raking and using the power blower
  • Wear a mask during dusty jobs

If symptoms persist despite your avoidance measures, your doctor may recommend saline washes (normal or hypertonic solutions), nonprescription medicines, or prescription medicines. In some cases allergy shots may be indicated. Controlling your environment and following your doctors treatment advice can successfully improve your rhinitis.