Chronic Rhinitis (cont.)

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Acute rhinitis: Inflammation of the nose that occurs for only a few days. Typically this is caused by a virus ("a cold"). If it goes on beyond a week, it is probably a bacterial infection.

Allergens: Normally harmless substances that cause an exaggerated allergic reaction (inflammatory response) in sensitive people.

Allergic rhinitis: Medical term for hay fever, a condition due to allergy that mimics a chronic cold. (Hay fever is a misnomer since hay is not a usual cause of this problem and there is no fever). Many substances can cause the symptoms of allergic rhinitis, the correct term for this reaction. (Rhinitis means "irritation of the nose" and is a derivative of Rhino, meaning "nose.") Symptoms include nasal congestion, a clear runny nose, sneezing, nose and eye itching, eye redness, and tearing of the eyes. Post-nasal dripping of clear mucus frequently causes a cough. Loss of smell is common, and loss of taste occurs occasionally. Nose bleeding may occur if the condition is severe.

Chronic rhinitis: inflammation of the nose that goes on for weeks to months which is different from "a cold", and may be caused by allergy, nasal irritants, or structural or physiological problems.

Hay fever: A seasonal allergy to airborne particles characterized by runny or itchy nose and eyes, sneezing, itchy throat, excess mucus, and nasal congestion. It is a misnomer because it is not caused by hay and it does not produce a fever.

Non-allergic rhinitis: Inflammatory condition of the nose without an obvious allergy as the cause.

Post nasal drip: Mucous 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.

Summer cold: Similar to hay fever. Summer cold is also a misnomer because it is not a "cold" and is not caused by a virus.

Vasomotor rhinitis: Similar to non-allergic rhinitis, thought to be mediated by an abnormal neuronal control of the blood vessels supplying the nose.

Medically reviewed by Martin E. Zipser, MD; American Board of Surgery


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Dion GR, Weitzel EK, McMains KC. Current approaches to diagnosis and management of rhinitis. South Med J. 2013 Sep;106(9):526-31 Greiner AN, Hellings PW, Rotiroti G, Scadding GK. Allergic rhinitis. Lancet. 2011 Dec 17;378(9809):2112-22. Levy ML, Fletcher M, Price DB, Hausen T, Halbert RJ, Yawn BP; International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG) Guidelines: diagnosis of respiratory diseases in primary care; Prim Care Respir J. 2006 Feb;15(1):20-34. Epub 2005 Dec 27.
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Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/26/2015

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