What is Non Allergic Rhinitis? Symptoms and Treatment


Have you ever started sneezing all of a sudden with a runny nose on top of that which is just enough to make your day worse? The question becomes more confusing when you cannot recall any particular reason for those changes to occur at once.

There you are, most likely to be suffering from what it’s called Non-allergic rhinitis, which is a common medical condition with signs and symptoms resembling those of Allergic Rhinitis or Hay fever, but without any specific triggering factor.

How does it occur?

In fact, the exact etiology for non-allergic rhinitis is unknown and often confirmed after ruling out other possible allergic conditions and infections. However, car exhaust, cigarette smoke, hair spray, perfume, latex, and smog can trigger the particular symptoms in most of the individuals. Some people may also develop non- allergic rhinitis following weather changes, hot and spicy food, alcoholic beverages and drugs such as NSAIDS (Ibuprofen), antidepressants etc.

Hormonal changes such as during menstruation, puberty and hypothyroidism can also trigger symptoms.

Even though, Non-allergic rhinitis usually affects children and adults, it is more common after the age of 20 and involve symptoms which last longer than usual-may be around the whole year.

Signs and symptoms

Patients with this condition will often present with vague features which do not carry any evidence of usual allergic reactions. Post nasal drip, runny nose, sneezing, cough, phlegm and stuffy nose will be the most common complaints whereas itching, reddening of eyes and difficulty in breathing may be unusual.

How to diagnose non allergic rhinits?

Often symptoms are so similar with allergic rhinitis that diagnosis is usually made by excluding allergic rhinitis, allergy skin prick test and blood tests are usually advised by ENT doctor along with a thorough history and ENT examination

How do you manage non-allergic rhinitis?

  • Treat the cause

Medical interventions for this condition usually depend on the underlying precipitating factors which are to be diagnosed by an ENT doctor after excluding possible other causes.

E.g. If the triggering factor involves a viral infection, the patient will be advised to bed rest and stay hydrated until the infection resolves spontaneously, which in turn will improve the symptoms of non-allergic rhinitis.

  • Avoid triggers

This is a MUST to practice in case you come across any specific cause which is thought to be initiating symptoms for non-allergic rhinitis.

E.g. Change your current occupation in an Asbestos factory if you think, the symptoms are caused by the recurrent exposure to dust and micro particles.

For some individuals it will also be helpful to avoid polluted environment full of vehicle fumes and smoke.

  • Symptomatic treatment

Rinsing throat and nose with salt water and taking antihistamines will reduce night-time congestion and help you to sleep.

Alkaline nasal wash or jala neti is effective.
Some individuals might have to take nasal sprays, decongestants or steroid sprays in case of chronic attacks.

If the symptoms are found to be occurring after having a particular medication, it is advisable to seek medical help to find an alternative drug which will not act as any triggering factor for non-allergic rhinitis.


Worsening of the condition due to lack of timely treatment can give rise to complications such as Sinusitis (an inflammation of sinusoidal mucosal linings), Eustachian tube dysfunction, chronic ear infections like otitis media, nasal polyps, impaired smell (anosmia), Asthma and obstructive sleep apnea.

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