Non-Allergic Rhinitis (NAR) is a very common disease which can impact your quality of life. If left untreated, NAR can have a significant impact on your health and can be associated with other health issues such as chronic ear infection, asthma and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Non-allergic rhinitis is an inflammation of the nasal mucosa, and the blood vessels dilate causing a physical congestion. It may also be a perceived blockage caused by the nervous system not detecting the airflow. This might be caused by the receptors not sensing the airflow properly and thus not being able to regulate the system, leading the nose to feel congested.
Reasons you may start suffering from NAR vary but commonly include environmental irritants such as odors or polluted air, some medications, weather changes and certain foods.
NAR can be sporadic or perennial, and is triggered by different things.
Bacteria cause infectious rhinitis. Dust, grain, chemical or animal antigens may give rise to occupational rhinitis and pregnancy may provoke hormone rhinitis. Drugs, such as ACE (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme) inhibitors or vasoconstrictors, cause drug-induced rhinitis; spicy food may cause gustatory and food related rhinitis. This hypersensitive vasomotor rhinitis affects approximately 6% of the population and another 10-20% of the population suffers from idiopathic rhinitis, whose causative reason is not known.¹ ²
Treatment options for NAR range from antihistamines and corticosteroids to surgical procedures. Antihistamines may provide you with short term relief from your symptoms but often have negative side effects including rebound nasal congestion (Rhinitis Medicamentosa).
If a surgical procedure is proposed as a suitable treatment option for you, most techniques have associated side effects such as nasal dryness and pain and in the long term they do not guarantee your NAR symptoms will not return.
¹ Ehnhage, A, Sahlstrand Johnsson P, et al Treatment of idiopathic rhinitis with kinetic oscillations – a multi- centre randomized controlled study. ACTA OTO-LARYNGOLOGICA, 2016.
² Bernstein, J.A., Nonallergic rhinitis: therapeutic options. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol, 2013. 13(4): p. 410-6