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What is Rhinitis?
Rhinitis ( /raɪˈnaɪtɪs/) is a medical term for irritation and inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the nose. Common symptoms of rhinitis are a stuffy nose, runny nose, and post-nasal drip. The most common kind of rhinitis is allergic rhinitis, which is usually triggered by airborne allergens such as pollen and dander. Allergic rhinitis may cause additional symptoms, such as sneezing and nasal itching, coughing, headache, fatigue, malaise, and cognitive impairment. The allergens may also affect the eyes, causing watery, reddened or itchy eyes and puffiness around the eyes.
Rhinitis is very common. Allergic rhinitis is more common in some countries than others; in the United States, about 10%-30% of adults are affected annually.
In rhinitis, the inflammation of the mucous membrane is caused by viruses, bacteria, irritants or allergens. The inflammation results in the generation of large amounts of mucus, commonly producing a runny nose, as well as a stuffy nose and post-nasal drip. In the case of allergic rhinitis, the inflammation is caused by the degranulation of mast cells in the nose. When mast cells degranulate, they release histamine and other chemicals, starting an inflammatory process that can cause symptoms outside the nose, such as fatigue and malaise.
The diagnosis of rhinitis is based on your physical symptoms as well as medical examination. If your doctor suspects allergies, allergy tests may be performed. Allergy tests usually involve skin testing – small amounts of allergens are placed onto the skin to see if an allergic reaction is caused.
What Causes Rhinitis?
The most common causes of allergic rhinitis include:
- House dust mites
- Pet or animal dander
The most common causes of non-allergic rhinitis include:
- Strong odors
- Changes in temperature
- Hormonal changes
- Sensitivity to food and drink
- Certain medications
Help for Rhinitis
In order to manage and control rhinitis, a combination of preventative measures together with medication can provide relief and reduce symptoms. Avoiding allergens and irritants that may exacerbate rhinitis is very important to stay healthy. Make certain lifestyle changes such as eating healthily, exercising regularly, as well as getting enough sleep and rest can also make significant difference.
Treatment options for rhinitis (allergic and non-allergic) include oral and inhaled medications such as antihistamine pills and sprays, nasal corticosteroid sprays, decongestant pills or sprays. Other treatment options include immunotherapy, allergy injections and surgery if there is nasal obstruction. Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, breathing exercises, massage therapy or yoga may also be helpful.
Herbal and homeopathic remedies have also proven to be extremely beneficial in reducing the symptoms of rhinitis. The ingredients are carefully selected and gentle to use on the body without the harsh side effects of conventional medicine. Quercitin is a well known herb that acts as a powerful anti-oxidant, boosts the immune system, and improves circulation while Euphrasia officinalis (Eyebright) keeps eyes healthy and bright.
Homeopathic ingredients such as Arsen alb., Nat. mur and Kali mur maintain the skin, nervous and respiratory system while also promoting feelings of calm and serenity. Remember to consult a qualified herbalist or homeopath for guidance.