Allergic VS Non- Allergic Rhinitis: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Nearly every person in the world will be familiar with rhinitis symptoms even if they have not heard that term. It is characterized by an inflamed or swollen mucous membrane that results in sneezing, runny nose, and nasal congestion. Treatment at a medical center is typically always needed to combat the discomfort. However, it can vary based on the cause. There are two main kinds of rhinitis, and in this blog, we will be examining them in detail.

What are the two types?

As mentioned above, there are two significant types of rhinitis. They are allergic rhinitis and non-allergic rhinitis. As their names indicate, the first is triggered by an allergic reaction to certain elements a person is exposed to; the latter is due to other causes, primarily infections or irritants. Depending on which one is causing the condition, a person will be given different treatments by a general practitioner

What is allergic rhinitis?

It is a widespread medical issue that affects both adults and children; it is estimated that more than 15% of the population may have it. It is also commonly referred to as hay fever, although it neither causes a fever nor is triggered by hay. 

It is an allergic response that occurs when a person is exposed to certain elements. Depending on when it happens and what triggers it, it can be categorized as either seasonal or perennial. The former occurs during spring, summer, or early fall and is caused by a sensitivity to pollen, grass, weed, or mold spores. 

Perennial allergic rhinitis is not time-specific and occurs throughout the year. It is caused by elements that are prevalent across all seasons, such as dust, dust mites, animal fur, or mold spores. Some food allergies such as peanut, egg, and milk can also cause symptoms of this condition. 

A person can experience both kinds of allergic rhinitis, as for some people, perennial symptoms could worsen during specific seasons. 

What is non-allergic rhinitis?

It is when an allergen does not cause the condition. Most times, the reason they occur is due to infection or irritants. When a person becomes exposed to viruses and bacteria, they could fall sick and exhibit rhinitis symptoms, for example, the common cold and flu. Irritants such as smoke, exhaust fumes, air pollution, and paint fumes can also cause the membrane to swell. 

Once a person identifies symptoms, they need to consult their internal medicine doctor. If an illness is to blame for non-allergic rhinitis, it could be contagious. 

What are the symptoms?

Both kinds of rhinitis share core symptoms; however, allergic rhinitis tends to be more severe and cause significant distress when compared to the other. However, it does not usually elicit a fever which may occur with non-allergic rhinitis. Asthma symptoms could also co-occur alongside allergic rhinitis. 

The core symptoms are as follows

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Coughing
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy nose
  • Prickling sensation in the throat
  • Fatigue

What is the treatment?

Antihistamines– It is only given to those suffering from allergic rhinitis. The medication will help reduce the allergic reaction and provide relief. 

Decongestants– These are given to patients suffering from both types of rhinitis. It helps clear the nasal congestion, so it will be easier to breathe. 

Eye drops and nasal sprays – They are given to reduce inflammation and irritation for both types of rhinitis. They are available over the counter or may be given as part of prescriptions. 

Immunotherapy – Doctors prescribe this for those suffering from allergic rhinitis. In the long term, it helps decrease the immune response to exposure to triggering elements. 

Antibiotics – If the rhinitis is caused by infection, a doctor will prescribe antibiotics to help the immune system fight the bacteria or virus causing the illness. 

Rhinitis can cause significant discomfort and, at times, may require hospitalization if left ignored. Therefore, a person should consult a family medicine doctor as soon as they exhibit the symptoms. 

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