Non-allergic rhinitis is a set of symptoms resembling an allergy but having no known cause. Generally developing in adulthood, symptoms persist all year round. The symptoms include postnasal drip, sneezing, runny nose, and stuffy nose. Approximately 19 million people in the U.S. have non-allergic rhinitis as compared to 58 million who suffer from allergic rhinitis.

Symptoms and Signs

Non-allergic rhinitis is not associated with your immune system, but it can make you feel just as miserable as with allergic rhinitis or hay fever. Both kinds of rhinitis can be associated with lowered work productivity, increased trips to the doctor’s office, and side effects from treatment (nosebleed, drowsiness, and dryness of the nasal passages). Since these two conditions are so much alike, allergy tests and blood tests are often needed to differentiate them. Symptoms and signs of rhinitis include:

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Nasal congestion from inflammation and swelling of the tissues lining the sinuses
  • Ear pain from dysfunction of the eustachian tubes
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Loss of smell
  • Asthma symptoms (like wheezing and cough)
  • Obstructive sleep apnea and snoring

Causes and Concerns

The causes of non-allergic rhinitis are unknown. The condition may only be confirmed after conditions like allergic rhinitis or infections are dismissed. Irritants related to the environment, medications, food and beverages, and other things can often act as triggers of non-allergic rhinitis. The following things trigger flare-ups of rhinitis and bring on symptoms:

Environmental Airway Irritants

  • Vehicle exhaust fumes
  • Chlorine
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Cleaning solutions
  • Hair spray
  • Laundry detergents
  • Wood dust
  • Glues
  • Latex
  • Perfume
  • Smog


  • Anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen or aspirin)
  • Oral contraceptives (birth control pills)
  • Some blood pressure medications
  • Tranquilizers
  • Antidepressants
  • Erectile dysfunction drugs
  • Foods and Beverages
  • Hot foods (coffee, tea, or soups)
  • Spicy foods (Mexican, Thai, Chinese)
  • Alcoholic beverages (particularly wine and beer)

Other Triggers

  • Snorting street drugs
  • Sudden changes in weather or temperature
  • Hormonal changes (that occur during puberty, menstruation or pregnancy.)

Solutions and Options

If you feel that you have non-allergic rhinitis, consider consulting one of our competent allergy specialists. The doctor can offer a solution to your symptoms. Whilethere is no cure for non-allergic rhinitis, there are some things that you can do to relieve your symptoms. These include:

  • Avoidance of any known rhinitis triggers (fireplaces, cleaning agents, and aerosol sprays)
  • Nasal irrigations for postnasal drip (rinsing out the nostrils with a saline solution)
  • Certain medications (should be discussed with your doctor)
  • Avoidance of smoke (do not smoke or allow anyone else to smoke in your home)
  • Avoidance of perfumes and colognes
  • Prescription nasal antihistamines (such as Patanase and Astelin)
  • Daily use of nasal glucocorticoids (like Flonase or Nasonex)
  • Oral decongestants (such as pseudoephedrine)
  • Surgical intervention (to correct a deviated septum or removal of nasal polyps)


When it comes to relieving bothersome symptoms of non-allergic rhinitis, the most effective treatment method is to avoid your individual triggers as much as possible. If you or someone you love suffers from rhinitis, call today for a consultation with one of our caring allergy specialists. The doctor can help you find a solution to your symptoms.