Nonallergic /
Vasomotor Rhinitis

Nonallergic / Vasomotor Rhinitis: Overview

Alternative Names: Non-allergic Rhinitis, Nonallergic rhinitis.

Vasomotor Rhinitis involves chronic sneezing or having a congested, drippy nose with no apparent cause.  It is a condition that has all the same symptoms as allergic rhinitis (or nasal allergies), but cannot be treated by antihistamine allergy medicine.

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Seasonal or indoor allergies are called 'allergic rhinitis'.  Vasomotor rhinitis is different from the allergic type because it is not caused by allergens and is sometimes called 'non-allergic rhinitis'.  While one person may be able to tolerate a certain amount of an irritant such as cigarette smoke, a person with vasomotor rhinitis will experience significant discomfort with the same amount.

Causes and Development

Vasomotor Rhinitis is caused by highly sensitive or excessive amounts of blood vessels in the delicate tissue of the sinus area.  Symptoms are triggered by the nervous system rather than by allergens.

In addition to cigarette smoke, strong odors or weather conditions will often cause symptoms in sufferers, who may find that many aspects of their environment cause allergy-like symptoms.  Some individuals will experience allergic rhinitis and vasomotor rhinitis simultaneously.

Signs and Symptoms

Vasomotor Rhinitis exhibits many of the same symptoms that an allergic reaction would – sneezing, coughing, watering/burning eyes, runny nose, congestion, breathing difficulty, headache, postnasal drip – but is caused by highly sensitive or excessive amounts of blood vessels in the delicate tissue of the sinus area.

Signs that you may have Vasomotor Rhinitis include:

  • Being highly sensitive to cigarette smoke, perfume, strong odors, changes in weather, changes in temperature, spicy foods, etc.
  • Runny or very dry nose being caused by walking into a slightly warmer (or cooler) room
  • Antihistamine medications do not alleviate symptoms.

Diagnosis and Tests

A diagnosis of nonallergic rhinitis is made after an allergy is ruled out.  This may require allergy skin or blood tests.

Treatment and Prevention

Some over-the-counter medications such as oral decongestants and saline nasal sprays may offer some relief.  Some prescription medications that have been proven effective are antihistamine nasal sprays (as opposed to oral antihistamines which typically have no effect on vasomotor rhinitis), anti-drip anticholinergic nasal sprays and corticosteroid nasal sprays.

Prevention involves avoiding as many situations as possible where your condition might be aggravated – for example, smoky rooms, wearing perfume, using scented candles, etc.

Limit your exposure to smoke and smoke odor as this is often the cause of many vasomotor rhinitis cases.  Use an air purifier at home to minimize airborne pollutants.

On This Page

Vasomotor Rhinitis:

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Nonallergic / Vasomotor Rhinitis:

Symptoms - Allergy

(High) cigarette smoke sensitivity

Given a certain amount of smoke, a person with vasomotor rhinitis will experience significantly more discomfort than someone who does not have it.

Symptoms - Head - Nose

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Conditions that suggest Nonallergic / Vasomotor Rhinitis:

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