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Vasomotor rhinitis

Rhinitis is a condition that includes a runny nose, sneezing, and nasal stuffiness. When hay fever or allergies are not causing these symptoms, the condition is called nonallergic rhinitis. One type of nonallergic rhinitis is called vasomotor rhinitis.

Causes

Vasomotor rhinitis is not caused by an infection or allergy. The exact cause is unknown. Symptoms are triggered by something that irritates the nose, such as:

  • A dry atmosphere
  • Air pollution
  • Alcohol
  • Certain medications
  • Spicy foods
  • Strong emotions

Symptoms

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion (stuffy nose)
  • Sneezing
  • Watery nasal drainage

Exams and Tests

The doctor will ask about your symptoms, when they occur, and what seems to trigger them.

You will also be asked about your home and work environment. The doctor may look inside your nose and see that the tissues lining your nose are swollen due to inflamed blood vessels.

A skin test may be done to rule out allergies as a cause of your symptoms.

If your doctor determines you cannot have skin testing, special blood tests may help with the diagnosis. These tests, known as IgE RAST tests, can measure the levels of allergy-related substances..A complete blood count (CBC) test, called the eosinophil count, may also help diagnose allergies.

Treatment

The main treatment is simply avoiding the things that trigger your symptoms.

In some cases, decongestants or a nasal spray containing an antihistamine may help. Corticosteroid nasal sprays may be useful for some forms of vasomotor rhinitis.

Alternative Names

Rhinitis - nonallergic; Idiopathic rhinitis; Nonallergic rhinitis

References

Corren J, Baroody FM, Pawankar R. Allergic and nonallergic rhinitis. In: Adkinson NF Jr., Bochner BS, Burks AW, Busse WW, et al., eds. In: Middleton's Allergy Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 42.

Update Date: 5/16/2014

Updated by: Stuart I. Henochowicz, MD, FACP, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology, Georgetown University Medical School, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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