Vasomotor rhinitis is a condition in which the blood vessels inside your nose dilate. This swelling can cause nasal congestion and increased mucus drainage. The condition is not life-threatening; however, it can be uncomfortable and annoying leading to decreased production at work, nosebleeds, nasal dryness, drowsiness, and repeated doctor’s visits.
What Causes Vasomotor Rhinitis?
In many cases, the exact cause of the inflammation is not clear; however, there are certain factors that may trigger an inflammatory reaction, including
• smoke, perfume, strong odors, smog, and other environmental irritants,
• viral respiratory infections,
• weather changes,
• certain medications,
• strong emotions,
• alcohol, and
• hot or spicy foods or beverages.
Who is at Risk of Developing Vasomotor Rhinitis?
Although vasomotor rhinitis can affect anyone at any age, it is most common among women over the age of 20. Approximately 19 million Americans suffer from vasomotor rhinitis compared to roughly 58 million who experience allergic rhinitis.
Symptoms of Vasomotor Rhinitis:
The symptoms of vasomotor rhinitis may be intermittent or constant. The most common symptoms include a runny or stuffy nose and excessive mucus production or postnasal drip. Unlike allergic rhinitis, most patients with vasomotor rhinitis do not experience an itchy nose, itchy or watery eyes, or a scratchy throat.
Vasomotor rhinitis can cause complications similar to allergic rhinitis, including chronic sinusitis, ear infections, a decreased sense of smell, obstructive sleep apnea, and even asthma.
Diagnosing Vasomotor Rhinitis:
Skin and blood tests may be performed to rule out allergies and to make sure that your immune system is functioning properly. A nasal endoscopy or CT may also be performed to check for polyps or other problems with the sinuses and nasal passages.
Treatments for Vasomotor Rhinitis:
Over-the-counter remedies are often effective in alleviating the symptoms of vasomotor rhinitis. These remedies include saline nasal sprays, oral decongestants and antihistamines, and corticosteroid nasal sprays. If your symptoms are especially severe, you may require prescription medications such as mometasone, azelastine, olopatadine hydrochloride, or ipratropium. Surgery may be required if you have an underlying health condition, such as a deviated septum or nasal polyps, that is exacerbating your symptoms.
Preventing Vasomotor Rhinitis:
If you can identify specific triggers for your symptoms, you should try to avoid them. If this is not possible, you may need to follow a daily treatment regimen recommend by your doctor to reduce your symptoms as much as possible. It is important to consult a doctor before using decongestants. Long-term use of these medications may actually cause your symptoms to worsen, and certain decongestants may cause rebound congestion. Individuals with hypertension should avoid decongestants since these medications are known to increase blood pressure.
Keeping a constant temperature in your home and using a humidifier to add moisture to the air may help reduce rhinitis symptoms. You should also try to keep your home free of dust, smoke, and other allergens and environmental irritants. Exercise may also help you temporarily relieve your symptoms. Physical activity stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which can constrict blood vessels for up to 30 minutes.