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Allergies Health Center

Nonallergic Rhinitis

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Treatment of Nonallergic Rhinitis

Nonallergic rhinitis can't be cured. But it can be controlled by:

  • Avoiding rhinitis triggers
  • Using home remedies such as nasal irrigation
  • Taking over-the-counter and prescription medications

Allergy shots -- immunotherapy -- are not used to treat nonallergic rhinitis.

If you have nonallergic rhinitis, it's important that you not smoke and not allow smoking in your home.

Other strategies to reduce exposure to triggers include:

  • Avoid wood-burning stoves and fireplaces if they cause symptoms.
  • Avoid cleaning agents, household sprays, perfumes, and scented products if they cause symptoms.
  • Ask family, friends, and co-workers not to use scented products that cause symptoms.
  • Avoid any chemical or material that tends to make you sneeze or have a runny nose.
  • Talk to your doctor about the medications you now take. If your nonallergic rhinitis is triggered by a medicine you need, your doctor may suggest a substitute.

Many people with nonallergic rhinitis benefit from performing nasal irrigation. This refers to rinsing of the nostrils with a salt water -- saline -- solution one or more times a day. Over-the-counter products for doing this include bulb syringes, neti pots, and bottle sprayers.

During each irrigation, rinse each nostril with at least 200 mL (about 3/4 cup) of commercially or home-prepared solution.

It's important to note that, according to the CDC, if you are irrigating, flushing, or rinsing your sinuses, use distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water to make up the irrigation solution. It’s also important to rinse the irrigation device after each use and leave open to air dry.

When performed once or twice a day, nasal irrigation may especially help treat postnasal drip. It's also a helpful technique to clear the sinuses before using medicated nasal sprays.

Medications for nonallergic rhinitis include:

Nasal antihistamines. Prescription products such as azelastine (Astelin) and olopatadine (Patanase) can relieve symptoms of postnasal drip, congestion, and sneezing within minutes. They are most effective when used on a regular basis.

Nasal glucocorticoids. Daily use of products such as fluticasone (Flonase) or mometasone (Nasonex) may help relieve symptoms. But it may take days or weeks to notice the full effects. Sometimes, people benefit from using a combination of nasal antihistamines and nasal glucocorticoids.

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