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Vasomotor rhinitis

Rhinitis is a condition that involves a constant runny nose, sneezing, and nasal stuffiness. When these symptoms are not caused by hay fever or allergies, the condition is called non-allergic rhinitis. One type of non-allergic rhinitis is called vasomotor rhinitis.

Alternative Names

Rhinitis - nonallergic; Idiopathic rhinitis; Nonallergic rhinitis

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Vasomotor rhinitis is not caused by an infection or allergy. The exact cause is unknown. Symptoms are triggered by something that irritates the nose, such as:

  • A dry atmosphere
  • Air pollution
  • Alcohol
  • Certain medications
  • Spicy foods
  • Strong emotions

Symptoms

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion (stuffy nose)
  • Sneezing
  • Watery nasal drainage (rhinorrhea )

Signs and tests

The doctor will ask about your symptoms, when they occur, and what seems to trigger them.
You will also be asked about your home and work environment. The doctor may look inside your nose and see that the tissues lining the nose are swollen due to inflamed blood vessels.

An allergy skin test  may be done to rule out allergies as a cause of your symptoms.
If your doctor determines you cannot have skin testing, special blood tests may help with the diagnosis. These tests, known as IgE RAST tests, can measure the levels of allergy-related substances..A complete blood count (CBC) test, called the eosinophil count , may also help diagnose allergies.

Treatment

The main treatment is simply avoiding the things that trigger your symptoms.

In some cases, decongestants or a nasal spray containing an antihistamine may help. Corticosteroid nasal sprays may be useful for some forms of vasomotor rhinitis.

References

Middleton’s Allergy Principles and Practice

Updated: 5/27/2013

Stuart I. Henochowicz, MD, FACP, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology, Georgetown University Medical School. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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