Other medical problems and other types of
rhinitis may cause symptoms like those of
allergic rhinitis. Your doctor will usually be able to
tell the difference between allergic rhinitis and these other problems by
examining you and asking questions about your symptoms.
Medical problems include:
Upper respiratory infections.Upper respiratory tract infections (URIs), especially
those caused by viruses such as the common cold, often cause sneezing, a runny
nose, and nasal congestion. Upper respiratory infections differ from an allergy
in that they last 7 to 14 days, and you may have a fever. But if you often
have these infections, it can be difficult to know whether you have an upper
respiratory infection or an allergy. You may need a skin test or a test that
checks your nasal drainage for a type of white blood cell (nasal
Nasal defects. If the wall
(septum) between the nostrils is not normal (deviated septum), it may
partially block one nostril and create a stuffy nose.
Largeadenoids. These can block airways and make it
hard to breathe through the nose.
Enlarged nose bones, which also can block
airways and make it hard to breathe through the nose.
Nasal polyps, which are
noncancerous growths in the nasal passages. They can block airways, making it
difficult to breath through the nose.
Injury or foreign body. Sometimes injury to the nose can cause the bone at the
top of the nasal cavity to break. Fluid can leak out from the area, causing a
runny nose. Small children sometimes put objects, such as nuts, candies, or
small pieces of toys, into their noses. Injury or objects in the nose can cause
a runny nose.
Tumor. In rare cases, tumors
develop in the nose and can cause symptoms such as nasal congestion. Long
exposure to certain substances, such as formaldehyde, nickel, or leather dust,
can make a tumor in the nose more likely.
Like allergic rhinitis, nonallergic rhinitis also causes
inflammation of the nasal passages and the same
allergens do not cause nonallergic rhinitis, and your
immune system does not react. Immune tests typically are negative. As with
allergic rhinitis, nonallergic rhinitis can occur at certain times of the year
Forms of nonallergic rhinitis may include:
Nonallergic rhinitis with eosinophilia syndrome (NARES). People with NARES have symptoms like those of allergic
rhinitis, such as sneezing, nasal itching, and a runny nose. Nasal tests show a
type of cell (eosinophils) that is also seen in allergic rhinitis. But
skin testing is negative for these people. The cause of NARES is
Infectious rhinitis. A virus may cause this form of
Vasomotor rhinitis. Vasomotor rhinitis, which is
also called idiopathic rhinitis, has symptoms of nasal congestion or a runny
nose. A change in humidity or temperature can trigger symptoms. So can
breathing in strong odors, cigarette smoke, air pollution, perfumes, the aroma
of hot and spicy foods, or insecticides.
Hormonal rhinitis.Pregnancy or
hypothyroidism may cause hormonal rhinitis. More
hormones in the blood, such as occurs during pregnancy, can lead to nasal
congestion or a runny nose.
Atrophic rhinitis. Atrophic rhinitis occurs mainly
in older adults and causes nasal congestion and a constant bad smell in the
nose. Atrophic rhinitis is seen more in developing countries, leading some
researchers to believe that bacteria might cause the disease. People with
atrophic rhinitis have dry crusts in the nasal cavity.
Rhinitis medicamentosa. Use of over-the-counter
nasal decongestant sprays for more than 5 to 7 days can lead to rhinitis
medicamentosa, or "rebound congestion." In rebound congestion, the decongestant
first makes your symptoms better, but then your nasal congestion gets worse.
Using cocaine can also cause rhinitis medicamentosa.