What is Chronic Rhinitis?
If you’re struggling with persistent nasal congestion and/or a runny nose, it’s likely that you’ve heard the term chronic rhinitis. But what is chronic rhinitis? And what causes chronic rhinitis? A brief internet search will tell you that the answers to these questions vary widely.
Read on to understand more about the different kinds and causes of rhinitis so that you can answer the question “What is chronic rhinitis?” with confidence.
What is chronic rhinitis? Rhinitis definitions & rhinitis symptoms
Rhinitis is commonly defined as the inflammation and irritation of the mucous membrane of the nose. The definition of chronic rhinitis is a little harder to pin down. For some doctors, chronic rhinitis occurs when rhinitis symptoms are present for one hour a day for more than one week. For others, chronic rhinitis occurs when the patient suffers from rhinitis symptoms (irregularly or continuously) for more than three weeks.
As a patient asking, “what is chronic rhinitis?” you’ll see below that there are many kinds and causes of rhinitis, but almost all of them share the same symptoms:
- Stuffy nose
- Runny nose
- Frequent sneezing
- Scratchy throat
- Post-nasal drip and sinus headache
More severe cases of chronic rhinitis (especially non-allergic rhinitis) can have these additional symptoms/complications:
- Sinusitis (read about signs of chronic sinusitis for more information)
- Chronic ear infection
- Anosmia (loss of smell)
- Sleep apnea
- Eustachian tube dysfunction
What is chronic rhinitis? Allergic and non-allergic rhinitis
There are many types of rhinitis. They can be split into two main categories: Allergic and Non-allergic rhinitis (also known as vasomotor rhinitis or idiopathic rhinitis), both of which get their name from causes of that particular kind of rhinitis. If you want to know the answer to “What is chronic rhinitis?” and “What causes chronic rhinitis?” it’s important to understand the difference between allergic and non-allergic rhinitis.
What is the most common cause of rhinitis? If you guessed allergies, you’ve guessed right. Allergic rhinitis is the most common kind of rhinitis and is caused by allergens such as dust mites, mold, and pet dander. When the allergen comes into contact with the membrane of your nose, the nose produces histamine, which in turn causes inflammation.
Persistent, chronic allergic rhinitis can occur if you fail to avoid the allergens or fail to seek treatment for your allergies.
Hay fever, which is caused primarily by pollen, is more likely cause seasonal rhinitis. If you think you had or have chronic allergic rhinitis and/or hay fever, make sure you’re aware of the 5 most common allergies as well as how to seek treatment for seasonal allergies.
Non-allergic rhinitis is caused by irritants that are not allergens. Instead, the rhinitis is caused by certain triggers, which can include:
- Medication, especially anti-inflammatory medicines, antidepressants, and contraceptives
- Rhinitis medicamentosa, or rhinitis caused by the overuse of nasal sprays.
- Strong chemicals such as chlorine, exhaust, hairspray , etc.
- Changes in humidity
- Food and drink sensitivity, especially to spicy foods and alcohol
- Hormonal changes, especially during puberty and pregnancy (read about pregnancy rhinitis relief for more information)
Two other forms of non-allergic rhinitis are chronic atrophic rhinitis and chronic polypous rhinitis. Chronic atrophic rhinitis occurs when the nasal mucosa become atrophied (have wasted away), causing inflammation. The exact cause of atrophic rhinitis is yet unknown but has been more frequently reported in women and individuals from lower SES.
Chronic polypous rhinitis occurs when non-cancerous swellings called polyps grow both in the lining of your nose and in your sinuses. As with chronic atrophic rhinitis, the cause of the growth of polyps is yet unknown but has been tied to regular inflammation of the mucous membrane.
Is chronic rhinitis contagious?
Fortunately, chronic rhinitis is not contagious, as it is caused by reactions to a trigger instead of by bacteria or viruses. However, some doctors classify the common cold and the flu as being a third kind of rhinitis: Infectious rhinitis. This types of rhinitis (if you count it as such) is contagious. Luckily, infectious rhinitis is transient, not chronic.
What is chronic rhinitis? Chronic rhinitis treatment
By now you might be thinking “What is chronic rhinitis?… It’s awful, that’s what.” But luckily, you have multiple options for chronic rhinitis treatment, whether it’s allergic rhinitis or non-allergic rhinitis.
Allergy and trigger avoidance is the quickest way to find relief from your chronic rhinitis is likely to avoid the allergen or trigger that’s causing your chronic rhinitis. However, for many, that’s easier said than done (especially if you live in a high-pollen area, are allergic to your beloved pet, or need the medication that’s causing your chronic rhinitis. If you’re unable to avoid the cause of your chronic rhinitis, here are other suggested chronic rhinitis treatments:
- Antihistamine tablets, liquids, or nasal sprays
- Decongestant tablets or nasal sprays (limited use)
- Steroid nasal sprays
- Saline nasal sprays
- Immunotherapy (allergy injections)
- The use of air filters, air-cleaning plants, and humidifiers
- Chronic rhinitis surgery and polyp removal
Keep in mind that it’s possible to have a combination of all three different types of rhinitis—a condition called mixed rhinitis—when exploring treatment option with your doctor.
What is chronic rhinitis? At Houston’s Kaplan Sinus Relief, it’s history
Whether you have questions about chronic rhinitis surgery or simply need post-nasal drip treatment, come and see the Houston sinus experts at Kaplan Sinus Relief. Our doctors can help you find medically-proven relief for your chronic rhinitis, seasonal allergies, and sinus headaches. They can even help you find long-lasting relief through treatments like Balloon Sinuplasty in Houston.
Ready to see the last of your chronic rhinitis? Schedule your appointment with Kaplan Sinus Relief today to determine a treatment plan.