Rhinitis is a condition where the inner lining of the nose has become inflamed. There are several possible causes of rhinitis.
The most common cause of rhinitis is the common cold virus. Other causes include allergy-triggered and irritant-triggered rhinitis. About 1/3rd of chronic rhinitis patients have no allergy trigger. This condition is called non-allergic rhinitis. Many patients have a combination of allergic and non-allergic rhinitis.
Because both allergic and non-allergic rhinitis share similar inflammation of the nasal passages, both types of rhinitis respond to the same anti-inflammatory medications. Therefore, many “allergy medications” also help patients without allergies.
Treatment Options: The most effective medicine for most forms of rhinitis is a steroid nasal spray (e.g. Flonase, Nasacort, Nasonex, Rhinocort, or QNASL). Some of these are available over the counter but others are available only by prescription. The most common side effects of nasal steroid sprays include nose bleed. They must be used daily to build up and maintain their effect.
Antihistamine and decongestant pills are also popular because they begin to work within an hour. Older antihistamines (e.g. Benadryl) are often sedating and shouldn’t be used when driving a car or operating dangerous machinery. Newer meds include antileukotrienes (e.g. Singulair) which do not work as well or as fast as antihistamines. In severe cases, all these medications may be taken together.
Lastly, receiving "allergy shots" regularly can reprogram the allergic component of the immune system but only in cases where the nasal symptoms are actually caused by an allergy.
Authored by Robert Settipane, MD