Rhinitis: Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors and Treatment



Rhinitis is the swelling and inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose. It is classified as allergic or non-allergic.

Non-allergic rhinitis is usually caused by a viral infection, although irritants can also cause it. The nose is the most commonly infected part of the upper airways.

Allergic rhinitis is a respiratory disease that is associated with allergic symptoms in the nose, eyes, ears, throat and palate. The condition is triggered when the patient inhales one or more allergens transported in the air.


The symptoms of allergic rhinitis that distinguish it from nonallergic rhinitis or a common cold are itching of the eyes, nose, mouth, throat or skin. Typical symptoms of allergic rhinitis also include:

  • Nasal blockage or congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Red nasal cornea
  • Sore throat
  • Clogged ears
  • Dark circles and / or swelling under the eyes
  • Fatigue

Triggers of allergic rhinitis

The main triggers of allergic rhinitis are allergens and irritants. Some symptoms of allergic rhinitis are triggered by allergens in the open air, such as plant pollen and mold spores.

Other symptoms of allergic rhinitis are triggered throughout the year by indoor allergens, such as pet fur, dust mites, mold and cockroach particles.

Irritants in general, such as tobacco smoke and the combustion of gases, can also trigger symptoms of rhinitis.

Causes and risk factors

As its name suggests, allergic rhinitis is caused by an allergic reaction to an allergen.

An allergic reaction is associated with a hypersensitive immune system, in which the patient’s natural defense against infection and disease mistakenly considers that allergens are harmful and therefore reacts by producing antibodies to resist them.

These antibodies cause the cells to release a quantity of chemical substances that lead to an inflammation of the mucous membrane or the inner layer of the nose and an excess of mucus production, which produces symptoms such as sneezing and nasal obstruction.

The tendency to develop allergic rhinitis increases when there is a family history of a hypersensitive immune system or an allergy.

Environmental factors such as living with a smoker or being exposed to dust mites at a young age can also put a child at risk of developing allergic rhinitis.


Treatment options for allergic rhinitis in general include medications and allergen immunotherapy or allergy vaccination.

Prevention measures: to reduce the symptoms of allergic rhinitis in both adults and children, avoid allergens (such as house dust mites, mold, pets, pollen and cockroaches), irritants and inciting medications.

Medications: There are several medications available for the treatment of allergic rhinitis, some of which are more effective in treating certain types of rhinitis (allergic and nonallergic), certain symptoms and certain levels of severity of symptoms.

Some of the medications commonly used to treat allergic rhinitis include antihistamines, nasal steroids, corticosteroids and decongestants.

These medications can be taken with a nebulizer and should be taken according to the instructions and prescriptions of the doctor, as they can have side effects and not all are safe for children.

Other home remedies include the use of nasal saline and nasal irrigations.

Antihistamines are used to control the generalized symptoms of allergic rhinitis when taken regularly in the morning and at night.

Among the different types of antihistamines, cetirizine has been shown to have good safety in children older than 6 months.

A nasal steroid spray is required in addition to the first line treatment for allergic rhinitis in children, to reduce chronic nasal congestion.

It is effective to use a nasal spray that contains both antihistamines and nasal steroids, but this combination should be used only in adults and children over 12 years of age.

Oral corticosteroids, unlike nasal steroids, are not recommended for use in children, as they may pose a risk to limit the growth potential of children.

Decongestants can reduce nasal congestion because they cause vasoconstriction in the nasal blood vessels and are safe in children, but should never be used for more than 5 days at a time.

Excessive use of decongestants can lead to the effect of rebound congestion.

Nasal saline solution and irrigations have been a suggested home treatment option for allergic rhinitis or allergic rhinitis. The use of nasal saline solution has shown improvements in the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

Allergen immunotherapy or allergy vaccination: Allergy vaccines or immunotherapy and treatment with sublingual immunotherapy can also be considered medicines to treat allergic rhinitis, depending on the severity of the symptoms.