Inflammation of the nasal mucus membrane is known as rhinitis. This group of symptoms is classified as either allergic (the result of allergies) or nonallergic (symptoms occur year-round and are not triggered by allergens). Allergic rhinitis, often referred to as hay fever, is the most common type.

Regardless of the triggering mechanism, rhinitis causes excessive mucus production and leads to symptoms that include runny nose, stuffy nose, and post-nasal drip.

It may also cause itchiness, watery eyes, swelling, headaches, and sinus pressure.

What Causes Rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis occurs when the immune system encounters pollens or indoor allergens such as dust mites, animal dander, mold, and insect droppings. Nonallergic rhinitis can be brought on by viruses, bacteria, and other irritants. These run the gamut from colds and flu, changes in the weather, dust, smoke, perfume, stress, hormonal changes, and medications to certain foods and beverages.

Chronic rhinitis can lead to nasal polyps, sinusitis, and ear infections if left untreated.

Options for Treating Rhinitis

Diagnosis requires a through head and neck examination that is likely to include allergy testing and other diagnostic tests, such as a nasal endoscopy or CT scan, which can help rule out nasal polyps, deviated septum, or other physical abnormalities.

Multiple medical treatments are available, depending on the type of rhinitis affecting you. Home remedies include irrigation of the nasal passages using a neti pot or bulb syringe, and using a humidifier to moisten the air. Medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal steroid sprays, can all help with symptom relief. If allergens are responsible, you may be a candidate for immunotherapy (allergy shots). In many cases, physical malformations may be corrected surgically.