|Rhinitis is the medical term describing irritation and inflammation of some internal areas of the nose. The primary symptom of rhinitis is a runny nose. It is caused by chronic or acute inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose due to viruses, bacteria or irritants. The inflammation results in the generating of excessive amounts of mucus, commonly producing the aforementioned runny nose, as well as nasal congestion and post-nasal drip. According to recent studies completed in the United States, more than fifty million Americans are current sufferers. Rhinitis has also been found to adversely affect more than just the nose, throat, and eyes. It has been associated with sleeping problems, ear conditions, and even learning problems. Rhinitis is caused by an increase in histamine. This increase is likely caused by airborne allergens. These allergens may affect an individual's nose, throat, or eyes and cause an increase in fluid production within these areas.
There are two types of rhinitis that the general population may suffer from: allergic rhinitis and nonallergic rhinitis. Rhinitis is considered IgE-mediated when the sufferer is classified as having allergic rhinitis.
Some of the most common causes that may bring about the presence of rhinitis include:
- Food reactions
- Anatomic defects
- Immunodeficiency diseases
- Ciliary dyskinesia
- Animal interaction
Testing for rhinitis
For assessing the possibility of allergies, skin testing, when possible, is the preferred method in comparison with various in vitro tests because it is more sensitive and specific, simpler to use, and less expensive.
The typical method of diagnosis and monitoring of allergic rhinitis is skin testing, also known as "scratch testing" and "prick testing" due to the series of pricks and/or scratches made into the patient's skin. Small amounts of suspected allergens and/or their extracts (pollen, grass, mite proteins, peanut extract, etc.) are introduced to sites on the skin marked with pen or dye. The allergens are either injected intradermally or into small scratches made into the patient's skin, often with a small plastic device. Common areas for testing include the inside forearm and the back.
Testing can be either single antigen or multiple antigen testing. Both test the skin for effects of different substances.
The management of rhinitis is mainly medical. Treatment for seasonal rhinitis is only needed during the appropriate time of the year. Current treatments include:
- Antihistamine pills and sprays
- Leukotriene antagonists
- Nasal corticosteroid sprays
- Decongestant pills or sprays
- Allergen immunotherapy
- Saline irrigation of sinus cavities through the use of a neti pot or by other means
- Nasal obstruction in perennial rhinitis may be treated by surgery.