Vasomotor Rhinitis: Causes, Symptoms & Diagnosis
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Vasomotor Rhinitis

What Is Vasomotor Rhinitis?

Rhinitis is an inflammation of the membranes inside the nose. A number of different irritants or allergens can cause this inflammation. However, there are times when there’s no specific cause for the inflammation. Other names for this condition are nonallergic rhinitis, idiopathic rhinitis, and rhinitis-nonallergic.

Vasomotor rhinitis isn’t life-threatening. For those affected with the condition, the symptoms can be annoying, but they aren’t serious.

What Causes Vasomotor Rhinitis?

Causes

Vasomotor rhinitis occurs when the blood vessels inside your nose dilate, or expand. Dilation of the vessels in the nose produces swelling and can cause congestion. Mucus may also drain from the nose.

It’s not known what causes the blood vessels in the nose to swell. Some common triggers that may produce this reaction include:

  • irritants in the environment such as perfumes, odors, smog, or secondhand smoke
  • changes in the weather and particularly dry weather
  • viral infections such as those associated with a cold or flu
  • hot or spicy foods or drinks
  • medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen

What Are the Symptoms of Vasomotor Rhinitis?

Symptoms

The symptoms of vasomotor rhinitis may come and go throughout the year. The symptoms may last several weeks or may be constant. Common symptoms of the condition include:

  • stuffy nose
  • runny nose
  • mucus in the throat, or postnasal drip

If you develop vasomotor rhinitis you typically will not have the following symptoms:

  • itchy nose
  • itchy or watery eyes
  • scratchy throat

These symptoms are common with allergic rhinitis, which is due to an allergy.

How Is Vasomotor Rhinitis Diagnosed?

Diagnosis

Your doctor can diagnose vasomotor rhinitis after ruling out other causes of your symptoms.

If you have symptoms of vasomotor rhinitis, your doctor will first perform different tests to see if your rhinitis is due to an allergy or other health problem. To determine if you have an allergy, your doctor may order a skin test to identify any allergies that you may have or a blood test to see if your immune system is functioning normally.

Your doctor may also order tests to see if you have any sinus problems that may be causing your rhinitis. Tests may include a nasal endoscope to look inside your nose or a CT scan of your sinuses.

If your doctor can’t find any underlying cause for your rhinitis, they’ll then make a diagnosis of vasomotor rhinitis.

How Is Vasomotor Rhinitis Treated?

Treatment

If you have vasomotor rhinitis, there are some remedies that you can use to treat the condition at home. Examples include:

  • over-the-counter (OTC) saline nasal sprays
  • OTC decongestants such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine
  • OTC antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), clemastine, or loratadine (Claritin)
  • OTC corticosteroid nasal sprays such as fluticasone

If your symptoms are severe or if you have side effects from these OTC medications, your doctor may prescribe other medications to help control your symptoms. Prescription medications that can be used to treat vasomotor rhinitis include:

  • corticosteroid nasal sprays such mometasone
  • antihistamine nasal sprays such as azelastine or olopatadine hydrochloride
  • anti-drip, anticholinergic nasal sprays such as ipratropium

In rare cases, your doctor may recommend surgical options to treat your symptoms. Surgical options may be helpful if you have an underlying health problem that intensifies your symptoms. Examples include nasal polyps or a deviated septum.

How Can I Prevent Vasomotor Rhinitis?

Prevention

Prevention of vasomotor rhinitis may be difficult if you don’t know what’s causing your symptoms. If you’re able to identify the causes, it may be possible to avoid them. Avoiding these triggers will reduce your symptoms and discomfort.

Contact your doctor if your symptoms are severe. Your doctor may be able to help you find a treatment that works. Your doctor can also diagnose health problems that may be worsening your symptoms. You may be able to prevent, reduce, or eliminate your symptoms with the right treatment.

You should also avoid overusing nasal decongestants. Even though these medications can provide short-term relief for your symptoms, using them for more than three or four days can worsen your symptoms.

What Is the Long-Term Outlook?

Outlook

If you develop vasomotor rhinitis, your outlook will depend on the severity of your symptoms. Treatment with over-the-counter or prescription medication may help reduce or eliminate your symptoms. Correcting underlying health conditions such as a deviated septum may also help reduce your symptoms and improve your prognosis.

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