Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Rhinitis

The most common causes of both allergic and non-allergic rhinitis are environmental irritants.

For allergic rhinitis, those irritants may include:

  • Pollen from trees, grass, flowers and weeds
  • Dust mites
  • Animal dander
  • Mold
  • Cockroach waste

For non-allergic rhinitis, irritants may include:

  • Smoke
  • Perfume
  • Chemical fumes
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy food
  • Temperature or humidity changes
  • Medications, including:
    • Aspirin
    • Ibuprofen
    • High blood pressure medications
    • Sedatives
    • Antidepressants
    • Oral contraceptives
    • Drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction
  • Hormone changes

Risk factors that make it more likely you’ll develop rhinitis include:

  • Long-term exposure to environmental irritants
  • Long-term use of nasal sprays
  • Being pregnant or undergoing hormonal changes
  • Prolonged stress
  • Other conditions, such as hypothyroidism and chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Being older than 20 years of age

Diagnosing rhinitis

If seasonal or allergic rhinitis is expected, your physician may recommend allergy tests to determine what irritants will trigger a reaction. Allergy tests may include skin tests or blood tests.

Non-allergic rhinitis is often diagnosed when allergies have been eliminated as a cause. Your physician may also want to rule out other causes, such as a deviated septum or nasal polyps. Imaging tests may include:

  • Endoscopy: An endoscope (a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera on the end) is inserted through your nostrils and progressed through your nasal passages and sinuses.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: This test combines X-ray and computer technology to produce detailed cross-sectional images of your sinuses.