My nose is always running. I can’t stop sneezing. I’m constantly clearing my throat. And I have dark circles under my eyes. I’ve never had allergies, so what’s going on?
It could be non-allergic adult rhinitis (NAR), which normally appears later in life. Of those who suffer from this non-allergic condition, 70 percent develop it after age 20.
Chronic rhinitis affects up to 45 percent of the population. There are two kinds of chronic rhinitis—allergic and non-allergic. Non-allergic rhinitis (NAR) is the most common form and accounts for up to 52 percent of all cases of adult rhinitis.
Symptoms of NAR are similar to allergies, but the causes are different. Strong odors, pollution, smoke, perfumes, heated or spicy foods and other irritants are often to blame. Another cause is over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays, such as Afrin. Regular use of these sprays can cause even more congestion, because the nose becomes dependent on the spray. Stopping the use of these sprays often requires treatment.
Fortunately, relief is available for those who suffer from NAR. Using a nasal steroid, such as Fluticasone or Nasacort, is the first line of treatment. A nasal antihistamine spray (Azelastine) may be added if a nasal steroid proves ineffective. Nasal saline irrigation can also help. For patients with watery nasal drainage, Ipatropium nasal spray is another treatment option. Oral antihistamines are generally not helpful unless there is an associated allergic component.
In some people, non-allergic and allergic rhinitis may coexist as mixed rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis is caused by allergens and normally appears before age 20. Seasonal allergic rhinitis, often referred to as hay fever, is typically caused by outdoor allergens such as pollen from trees, grasses and weeds. Perennial allergic rhinitis occurs year-round and is usually triggered by pets or dust mites.
If your symptoms are making you miserable, your allergist can help determine what’s causing your symptoms and develop a treatment plan to help you feel better. Contact us to make an appointment.