Rhinitis (sometimes referred to as nonallergic rhinitis) is similar to hay fever, but the cause is not related to allergies. Symptoms are the same, and include runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and postnasal drip. Though difficult to distinguish from hay fever, nonallergic rhinitis does not cause itchy or watery eyes.
The exact cause of rhinitis isn’t always known. It may be the result of a viral or bacterial infection, environmental irritant such as dust or pollution, a change in the weather, certain foods or beverages, stress, hormonal changes or medications. It is more than just a nuisance; untreated rhinitis can lead to nasal polyps, ear infections and chronic sinusitis.
If rhinitis is mild, it may respond to home treatments. Irrigation of the nasal cavity with a neti pot or syringe may help clear up congestion and relieve symptoms; it’s also a good idea to use a humidifier to moisten the air, and drink plenty of fluids. If there is a food or beverage trigger, avoiding that item should help aid in prevention. Medications like antihistamines, decongestants and nasal sprays may also bring relief. If nasal polyps develop or other structural abnormalities are causing symptoms, surgery may be considered.