Chronic Rhinitis and Post-Nasal Drip

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What are rhinitis and post-nasal drip?

Rhinitis is inflammation of the inner lining of the nose and it has many different causes. Rhinitis is a very common condition. Symptoms include:

  • Runny nose (rhinorrhea)
  • Nasal itching
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing

A significant association exists between rhinitis (allergic), asthma, and chronic sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses for more than 12 weeks) in some individuals. Some evidence suggests that up to 3 of every 5 patients has multiple conditions.

Post-nasal drip is mucus accumulation in the back of the nose and throat leading to, or giving the sensation of, mucus dripping downward from the back of the nose. One of the most common characteristics of chronic rhinitis is post-nasal drip. Post-nasal drip may lead to chronic sore throat, chronic cough, or throat clearing. Post-nasal drip can be caused by excessive or thick mucus secretions or impairment in the normal clearance of mucus from the nose and throat.

What causes rhinitis?

Rhinitis has many possible causes. Rhinitis can be either acute or chronic, and is categorized into three areas: allergic rhinitis, non-allergic rhinitis, and mixed rhinitis (a combination of allergic and non-allergic).

Allergic rhinitis is the most common cause of rhinitis. It is caused by environmental allergies and is characterized by an itchy or runny nose, sneezing, and nasal congestion. Other allergic symptoms include:

People with allergic rhinitis also have a higher incidence of asthma and eczema, which are also mainly allergic in origin.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is usually caused by pollen in the air, and sensitive patients have symptoms during peak times during the year.

Perennial allergic rhinitis, a type of chronic rhinitis is a year-round problem, and is often caused by indoor allergens (particles that cause allergies), such as dust and animal dander in addition to pollens that may exist at the time. Symptoms tend to occur regardless of the time of the year.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/22/2015

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