Vasomotor Rhinitis (Nonallergic Rhinitis)

Vasomotor rhinitis is an exaggerated reflex response.   It’s normal to get a runny nose in cold air but some people have a runny nose with other stimuli.     Irritant triggers may include perfumes, smoke, changes in temperature or barometric pressure, spicy foods or alcohol.  The most common symptom is a clear runny nose but others include sneezing fits, nasal congestion and sinus discomfort.  Symptoms might even worsen during allergy season but it may be the  irritation of pollen grains rather the allergy that is the problem.  It is also common to have both allergic rhinitis and nonallergic rhinitis.

Diagnosis:  The history may suggest the diagnosis but allergy testing and nasal endoscopy to rule out nasal polyps is also part of the workup.

Management:  Nasal sprays are quite effective for most patients (antihistamine sprays or steroid nasal sprays).  Rarely when the problem is related to chronically swollen nasal lining, office based nasal surgery may be helpful.

Related articles