My runny nose isn’t caused by allergies?

By: Kelly Hersh, FNP-BC

photo of Kelly Hersh at Colorado Allergy & Asthma Centers

Kelly Hersh, FNP-BC

Some patients can be very surprised to find out that they are completely negative on allergy testing, especially if they have been struggling with chronic nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose, and/or post nasal drip.  If it isn’t allergies causing these symptoms, what could it be, and more importantly, how can one feel better?

runny nose

Nonallergic rhinitis, sometimes referred to as vasomotor rhinitis, can be a frustrating diagnosis.  It is most common in adults, and unlike allergies, it does not involve the immune system.  The cause of non-allergic is not known, but it is thought that people with non-allergic rhinitis have heightened sensitivity to environmental changes or certain substances.  Irritants such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, strong odors, weather, or temperature changes, eating (especially hot, cold, or spicy food), exercising, hormone changes, and certain medications can all cause nasal symptoms.  Some people have both allergic and nonallergic rhinitis.  In most people, symptoms of nonallergic rhinitis are lifelong.

Trigger avoidance, saline rinses, and keeping your nasal passages moistened can reduce symptoms, but many people require medication to help them feel better.  Fortunately, there are prescriptions and over the counter medications that can help relieve symptoms caused by nonallergic rhinitis and are safe to take on a long term basis. Your provider at Colorado Allergy and Asthma Centers will work with you on coming up with an individualized treatment plan.

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