Many things are currently known to trigger nonallergic rhinitis in people, some of which bring about short-term symptoms, while others result in more chronic issues. Following are the main triggers of nonallergic rhinitis.

  • Occupational or Environmental Irritants: Particles in the air such as smog, dust, secondhand smoke, etc can trigger this condition, as can strong odors like those from perfumes. Chemical fumes like the ones withstood in certain occupations too can fall in this category.
  • Infections: A viral infection such as a cold or a flu often triggers nonallergic rhinitis in people.
  • Changes in the Weather: Humidity or even temperature changes can cause the nasal membranes to swell up and result in a stuffy or runny nose.
  • Some Medications: There are medications which can trigger nonallergic rhinitis, including ibuprofen, aspirin, and high BP medications like beta blockers. Triggers also include being under the influence of sedatives, oral contraceptives, and antidepressants. Too much use of the nasal sprays intended for decongestion can result in a specific type of nonallergic rhinitis known as rhinitis medicamentosa.
  • Certain Foods and Beverages: If nonallergic rhinitis happens while you eat, it can be because of specific spicy or hot foods. Sometimes even imbibing alcohol can cause the nasal membranes to swell, which in turn can cause nasal congestion.
  • Sleep Apnea, Sleeping on the Back, and Acid Reflux: Sleeping at night in a supine position can cause nonallergic rhinitis, and so can acid reflux and obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Hormone Changes: Changes in hormones resulting from pregnancy, use of oral contraceptives, and menstruation, can end up causing nonallergic rhinitis.

Risk factors

The following factors can contribute to a higher risk of nonallergic rhinitis developing in a person.

  • Being of an Age over 20 Years: Where allergic rhinitis can occur just as commonly before a person turns 20, nonallergic rhinitis is much more often seen in people over that age.
  • Being Exposed to Irritants: If a person is exposed to tobacco smoke or exhaust fumes, they run a higher risk of developing nonallergic rhinitis.
  • Being Female: As any doctor working at an OBGYN free clinic can tell you, menstrual periods and times of pregnancy can drive up the likelihood of congestion in the nasal passage.
  • Long-Drawn Use of Nasal Drops or Sprays: The use of OTC nasal sprays or drops over long periods can actually worsen any existing congestion problems after their effects wear off, causing what is termed as rebound congestion.
  • Certain Preexisting Health Issues: There are a number of chronic health conditions which can cause or aggravate rhinitis, including chronic fatigue syndrome and hypothyroidism.
  • Stress: Physical or emotional stress, in some people, can act as a risk factor for nonallergic rhinitis.

If you think you have a case of nonallergic rhinitis, then it is best to get yourself checked out right away. Even doctors at a low income medical clinic could tell you more about the issue that you have, unless you are a woman, in which case an OBGYN free clinic would be an even better option.

Book an Appointment

    About the Author

    Dr. Ghassan M. Al-Jazayrly, MD

    A graduate of University of Aleppo Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Al-Jazayrly or, as he is colloquially known: Dr. AJ, is an oncologist and hematologist of a Complete Care Community Health Center (CCCHC) with more than 36 years of experience. In recent years, he’s been involved with a non profit organization known as Every Woman Counts (EWC) which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to California’s underserved populations in order to eliminate health disparities for low-income individuals.

    To Book an Appointment

    We are standing by to assist you.

    Please call 310-706-2594