August 22, 2010

Got Allergies? Maybe It's Actually Non-Allergic Rhinitis

USA Today published a story on Aug 22, 2010 describing a condition called "Non-Allergic Rhinitis" or "Vasomotor Rhinitis" which essentially is having pretty much all the symptoms of classic nasal allergies, but caused NOT by allergies!

Such symptoms include:

- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Post-nasal drainage
- Nasal obstruction
- Sinus pressure
- Sneezing

These individuals also report that their nasal symptoms are triggered not only by pollen and dust, but also perfumes, strong odors, cigarette smoke, chemicals, cold air, high wind, humidity, and certain foods, especially spicy ones.

The way I try to explain this condition from those suffering from it is to consider their nasal lining to be hypersensitive... so hypersensitive that things which ordinarily shouldn't cause any problems, do.

The best way to address this condition is by avoiding known triggers and keeping the nose clean by regular saline washes. The saline washes are quite important in that they clean out the substances which are irritating the nose (much like washing your skin reduces the irritation if you get poison ivy).

Some patients may benefit from medications like anti-histamine and steroid nasal sprays, but such medications do not work as well as for those suffering from classic nasal allergies.

Barrier type of medications like ponaris may also be helpful. Such medications work by creating an oily barrier such that the irritating substances don't actually touch the lining itself when breathed in (much like chapstick on lips).

Some patients with non-allergic rhinitis and large turbinates may benefit from a surgical procedure called turbinate reduction, but rarely cure the problem. At best, there is perhaps a 50% reduction in symptoms.

One should also be aware that you can have BOTH allergic and non-allergic rhinitis.

Read the USA Today article here.

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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