Chapter 6: Nonallergic rhinitis.

Rachna Shah*, Kris G. McGrath

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Nonallergic rhinitis represents a non-IgE-mediated group of disorders that share the symptoms of nasal congestion, rhinorrhea, sneezing, and/or postnasal discharge but not pruritus that characterizes allergic rhinitis. Nonallergic rhinitis may be divided into two broad categories, inflammatory and noninflammatory etiologies. The inflammatory causes include postinfectious (viral and bacterial), rhinitis associated with nasal polyps, and nonallergic rhinitis with eosinophilia, where eosinophils are present in nasal smears but skin testing for aeroallergens is negative. The noninflammatory causes include idiopathic nonallergic rhinitis (formerly referred to as vasomotor rhinitis or colloquially as an "overreactive nose"); rhinitis medicamentosa, which is medication-induced rhinitis; hormone related (pregnancy); systemic disease related (severe hypothyroidism); and structural defect related (deviated septum, head trauma causing cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea). The classic symptoms of idiopathic nonallergic rhinitis are nasal congestion, postnasal drip, and sneezing triggered by irritant odors, perfumes, wine, and weather changes. The diagnosis of rhinitis begins with a directed history and physical exam. Examination of the nasal cavity with attention to appearance of the septum and inferior turbinates is recommended. Skin testing for seasonal and perennial aeroallergens is helpful in establishing the presence or absence of IgE antibodies and to help differentiate nonallergic from allergic rhinitis. Topical H(1)-receptor antagonist (antihistamine) nasal sprays, intranasal steroids, intranasal anticholinergics, and oral decongestants are options for pharmacotherapy. It is important to inquire about hypertension, arrhythmias, insomnia, prostate hypertrophy, or glaucoma to prevent undesirable side effects associated with the oral decongestant pseudoephedrine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAllergy and asthma proceedings : the official journal of regional and state allergy societies
Volume33 Suppl 1
StatePublished - May 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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