How to Treat Rhinitis 

Many people that are bothered by rhinitis are wondering how to treat rhinitis. Rhinitis, or inflammation of the lining of the inner part of the nose, is a common condition that has many causes. Its symptoms include runny nose (rhinorrhea), nasal itching, sneezing, and nasal congestion. How to treat rhinitis should be based on different types of rhinitis.

Types of Rhinitis

Rhinitis may be an acute or a chronic condition. It is usually categorized into allergic and non-allergic rhinitis, while some people have a mixed type of rhinitis. How to treat rhinitis should be based on its types.

1. Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis has signs and symptoms similar to common colds. These include runny nose, congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes, and sinus pressure. However, it is not caused by a virus, but an allergic reaction to allergens, such as dust mites, pet dander, or pollen.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis occurs during certain times during the year, while perennial allergic rhinitis is a problem that occurs regardless of the time of the year.

2. Non-Allergic Rhinitis

This condition is characterized by chronic sneezing, nasal congestion, and drippy nose similar to those of allergic rhinitis, but without apparent cause. Triggers include odors or air irritants, changes in weather, certain medications or foods, and health conditions. Diagnosis is made after allergic rhinitis is ruled out using skin tests or blood tests.

How to Treat Allergic Rhinitis

1. Home Remedies

  • Rinse your nasal passages by flushing or irrigating them, using salt water. You can do this by using a nasal irrigation device, which is available in most drugstores.
  • Avoid allergens such as dust mites by using a mattress cover and washing linens in hot water. Keep windows closed and filter the air using an air conditioner to keep pollen away. Clean showers and bathtubs to prevent allergies from molds. Keep pets away from the bedroom.
  • Keep air moist by using a humidifier or vaporizer. You can also inhale steam in the bathroom or from a boiling pot, or apply a warm compress over the nose.
  • Take supplements such as quercetin or butterbur to relieve symptoms of allergy.

2. OTC Medications

For symptoms of mild allergic rhinitis, try OTC (over-the-counter) medicines such as:

  • Antihistamines, which work by blocking allergy-causing chemical called histamine. These help relieve sneezing and itching. Examples include chlorpheniramine (Ahist), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Agistam), and fexofenadine (Allegra).
  • Oral decongestants help relieve congestion by reducing swelling of nasal passages. Examples include phenylephrine hydrochloride (Lusonal) and pseudoephedrine hydrochloride (Sudafed). Nasal spray decongestants like oxymetazoline hydrochloride (Dristan), phenylephrine hydrochloride (Neo-Synephrine), and naphazoline (Privine) are also available, but they should not be used for more than three days at a time.
  • Steroid nasal sprays, which help reduce swelling of the nasal passages. OTC preparations include Flonase and Nasacort.
  • Other drugs, such as Cromolyn sodium (NasalCrom) nasal spray, and eye drops with tetrahydrozoline and naphazoline can relieve red eyes, while eye drops containing an antihistamine called ketotifen, can help relieve itching.

3. Prescription Medications

If OTC medicines do not give you relief, you might need prescription medications such as:

  • Steroid nasal sprays, which can relieve nasal congestion, itchiness, and sneezing. Examples include mometasone (Nasonex), budesonide (Rhinocort), and flunisolide (Nasarel).
  • Prescription oral antihistamines, such as desloratadine (Clarinex) and levocetirizine (Xyzal), antihistamine nasal sprays and eye drops are also available on prescription.
  • Other medications, such as Singulair, a "leukotriene modifier," and oral steroids (prednisone) can help relieve severe symptoms.
  • Immunotherapy works by regular exposure to small amounts of allergens, so that the body becomes used to them. Allergy shots, which work on most people, are a natural form of treatment that boosts the immune system function.

How to Treat Non-Allergic Rhinitis

1. Home Remedies

  • Rinse your nasal passages.
  • Keep air moist.
  • Blow your nose gently and regularly if any irritants or mucus is present.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, decaffeinated tea, or juice.
  • Avoid triggers such as smoke from burning wood, household sprays, cleaning agents, perfumes, and other scented products. Do not smoke or allow anybody to smoke at home.

2. OTC Medications

Mild symptoms of non-allergic rhinitis may be relieved by simple home treatments, but if they get too bothersome, you can use over-the-counter medicines such as oral decongestants, Sudafed and phenylephrine (Afrin), to reduce nasal congestion. Watch out for side effects such as high blood pressure, loss of appetite, insomnia, palpitations, restlessness and anxiety.

3. Prescription Medications

If OTC medicines do not work, ask your doctor for prescription drugs such as:

  • Nasal antihistamines, such as Astelin and Patanase, can relieve symptoms effectively when used regularly. Side effects include headache, fatigue, and bitter taste in the mouth.
  • Nasal glucocorticoids, such as Nasonex, may take weeks to take full effect. It may work better when used with nasal antihistamines. Side effects include nausea, headache indigestion, and bodily pains.
  • Nasal ipratropium such as Atrovent is best for watery nasal discharge. Side effects include drying of the inner lining of the nose and bitterness in the mouth.
  • Oral decongestants such as pseudoephedrine are recommended only if nasal glucocorticoids or nasal antihistamines do not relieve symptoms. Nasal sprays like oxymetazoline (Afrin) and Neo-Synephrine should be used no more than 2 to 3 days at a time to avoid rebound congestion.

Prevention of Rhinitis

Knowing how to prevent rhinitis is better than knowing how to treat rhinitis. Although there is no way to prevent allergic rhinitis, avoiding exposure to allergens such as pollen or dust mites can help reduce the onset of symptoms. You can also ask your doctor about taking allergy medications before you are exposed to such allergens.

In the same way, it is difficult to avoid non-allergic rhinitis, but you may reduce symptoms and avoid flare-ups by:

  • Avoiding triggers.
  • Not overusing nasal decongestants, which can worsen your symptoms.
  • Getting proper treatment from your doctor.