Rhinitis is a chronic condition that affects the nose, which produces mucus that helps keep dust and debris out of the lungs. Mucus also traps bacteria and viruses that can cause infection. The main symptoms of rhinitis are sneezing, itching and running nose. Medications are available to treat rhinitis and can include antihistamines, nasal sprays and steroids. Home remedies may help alleviate the symptoms of rhinitis, including saline rinses and humidifiers. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to reduce nasal blockage.
Allergies can cause rhinitis, and the two conditions often overlap. However, it’s important to distinguish between allergies and the common cold. Colds are more infectious than allergies and last for a shorter period of time. If you are not sure whether your symptoms are caused by a cold or allergies, see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.
Diagnosing rhinitis usually begins with a physical exam of the nose, ears, sinuses, throat and skin. The doctor will ask questions about your past medical history and family history. A history of hay fever or other allergy symptoms may indicate allergic rhinitis. An allergy test is usually required, which involves placing several substances on the skin to determine which ones trigger a response. The test may include a skin prick test or radioallergosorbent test (RAST).
Patients with allergic rhinitis should avoid contact with their allergens to decrease symptoms. This can be difficult, especially during the pollen season, but steps can be taken to minimize exposure. Using an air conditioner, washing bedding and clothing regularly, using dust-mite covers, and staying indoors during high-pollen days can all help reduce symptoms.
Treatment for allergic rhinitis includes oral or nasal antihistamines, steroid nasal sprays and decongestants. Using these medications in combination can provide better relief than either alone. Antihistamines prevent the body from producing histamine, which causes sneezing and itching. Nasal steroid sprays and decongestants relieve congestion by shrinking the blood vessels in the nose and nose, helping to improve breathing.
Some patients with rhinitis have persistent symptoms that do not respond to over-the-counter treatments. In these cases, the doctor may recommend immunotherapy, which trains the immune system to tolerate allergens over a long period of time. This can reduce the severity of rhinitis and eliminate or significantly reduce the need for medications.
Symptoms of rhinitis can be very bothersome and impact quality of life. The specialists at Mount Sinai Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery have vast expertise in treating this condition with various over-the-counter and prescription medications, minimally invasive surgical techniques and procedures, and lifestyle modifications to improve your health and comfort. The team will work with you to find a plan that works for your needs. Our goal is to get you back to your normal life activities as quickly as possible. Contact us for more information about our services or to schedule an appointment with a rhinitis specialist. We offer office and outpatient appointments to accommodate your busy schedule.