Rhinitis is characterized by nasal congestion, rhinorrhea, sneezing, and/or posterior nasal drainage. It affects a significant portion of the population and presents a large burden economically and on quality of life. Rhinitis is broadly characterized as allergic and nonallergic, of which nonallergic rhinitis may be divided into inflammatory and noninflammatory etiologies. The inflammatory causes include nonallergic rhinitis with eosinophilia, postinfectious, and rhinitis associated with nasal polyps. The noninflammatory causes include idiopathic nonallergic (vasomotor) rhinitis, medication-induced rhinitis, hormone related (e.g., pregnancy), and systemic disease related. Allergic rhinitis is classified as intermittent or persistent and mild versus moderate-severe. The nasal mucosa is extremely vascular; parasympathetic stimulation promotes an increase in nasal cavity resistance and nasal gland secretion, whereas sympathetic stimulation leads to vasoconstriction. The diagnosis of rhinitis begins with a directed history, particularly noting pattern, chronicity, and triggers of symptoms. Examination of the nasal cavity with attention to appearance of the septum and inferior turbinates is recommended. Skin testing for aeroallergens is helpful in demonstrating the presence or absence of immunoglobulin E antibodies and to differentiate nonallergic from allergic rhinitis. Treatment includes patient education, irritant or allergen avoidance, and pharmacotherapy. Medications used for the treatment of rhinitis include intranasal corticosteroids, oral and intranasal antihistamines, intranasal anticholinergic agents, oral decongestants, and leukotriene receptor antagonists. When used in combination, an intranasal antihistamine spray and nasal steroid provide greater symptomatic relief than monotherapy. Allergen immunotherapy is the only disease-modifying intervention available for allergic rhinitis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine