Non-Allergic Rhinitis 101
When your nose is acting up but allergies have been ruled out as the cause, non-allergic rhinitis (NAR) is the diagnosis that usually follows. Typically, your eyes, nose and throat won’t itch when allergies aren’t at play, but NAR can involve a runny nose, congestion, postnasal drip or sneezing. These discomforts can drag on and on and become a hindrance to your quality of life. (Here are seven ways to treat allergies.)
The long list of possible triggers for NAR includes infection, temperature changes, chemical fumes, alcohol, stress and a hormonal imbalance (resulting from puberty, pregnancy, hormonal replacement therapy or birth control). Even getting older can do it: a sub-type of NAR known as senile rhinitis stems from an age-related dysfunction of the nerves inside the nose.
Medications can also set off NAR, from beta-blockers and NSAIDs to decongestant nasal spray. The latter may reduce swelling and unclog your nose during a cold or an allergic reaction, but when taken for more than five to seven consecutive days, it can trigger new swelling. For some people, taking nasal decongestants to counter decongestant-related symptoms becomes a vicious cycle.