What is nonallergic rhinitis?

Nonallergic rhinitis happens when the tissues inside the nose become inflamed (swollen). It is also called vasomotor rhinitis.

For many people, nonallergic rhinitis results from exposure to certain triggers, like odors or certain medications. Some people develop this condition due to underlying health problems.

This condition does not result from exposure to allergens. Nasal inflammation because of allergens is caused by allergic rhinitis.

Who is likely to have nonallergic rhinitis?

Anyone can develop nonallergic rhinitis.

What causes nonallergic rhinitis?

Nonallergic rhinitis results when nasal tissues become inflamed and swollen as a result of a buildup of fluid.

Inflammation may occur as a result of viral illnesses or exposure to certain triggers, including:

Environmental triggers

  • Smoke
  • Spicy food
  • Perfume
  • Fumes from paint
  • A drop in temperature
  • Stress

Medication triggers

Hormonal imbalances due to:

  • Puberty
  • Pregnancy
  • Hormone medications, like birth control pills

Nonallergic rhinitis may also result from the misuse of illegal drugs, like cocaine.

What are the symptoms of nonallergic rhinitis?

For most people, the symptoms of nonallergic rhinitis include:

  • Postnasal drip
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Diminished sense of smell

Rarely, nonallergic rhinitis causes a foul-smelling crust to form inside the nose. The interior nasal tissues may bleed when you attempt to remove the crust.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy