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Chronic Rhinitis

Runny Nose, Seasonal Rhinitis

What is Chronic rhinitis?

Chronic rhinitis is an inflammation of the nasal mucosa. It causes a runny or stuffy nose that lasts longer than a week. Rhinitis is not a serious condition, but it can be quite annoying. There are multiple causes of rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis may be seasonal or year round (perennial). It is caused by antibodies (IgE) to specific allergens like pollens, molds, dust mites, house dust, and animal dander. Idiopathic rhinitis is caused by temperature and humidity changes, smoke, odors and emotional upsets. Infectious rhinitis is caused by a bacterial infection and is a complication of a cold. Other less common causes are long-term use of decongestant nasal sprays, cocaine, mechanical obstruction, or hormonal imbalances.

How is Chronic rhinitis diagnosed?

History: The chief complaints are a constant or intermittent runny nose (rhinorrhea), stuffed nose and sinuses, maybe a mild sore throat. Itchy, watery eyes, and sneezing suggest allergic rhinitis.

Physical exam will reveal sinus congestion with clear, watery fluid. The presence of a thick, colored (yellow-green) discharge indicates a bacterial infection.

Tests include skin testing for allergies, microscopic examination of nasal secretions to look for accumulation of eosinophils (a special type of white blood cell associated with allergy), and sinus x-rays.

How is it treated?

Avoidance of environmental triggers is the most important treatment. Other helpful measures are keeping a clean environment and the use of humidifiers or dehumidifiers. Medications that might reduce symptoms are antihistamines, decongestants, nasal corticosteroids, and saline nasal washes. Allergy shots (desensitization) may be effective against some allergens.


Montelukast sodium

Pepcid (Famotidine), Clarinex (Desloratadine), Zyrtec (Cetirizine), Decadron (Dexamethasone), Medrol (Methylprednisolone), Flonase (Fluticasone), Prilosec (Omeprazole)

What might complicate it?

Persons with rhinitis are prone to recurrent respiratory, sinus, and ear infections.

Predicted outcome

Sometimes, the symptoms of allergic rhinitis lessen as the person grows older. There are no cures, only symptomatic treatment.


A bacterial sinus infection presents similarly.

Appropriate specialists

Allergist and otolaryngologist.

Last updated 6 April 2018