At least once a year, it happens that our nose starts to bother us. When mucus starts to flow from the nose (runny nose) and if it is accompanied by inflammation and swelling of the mucous membrane of the nose, soon stuffiness hits you and let us not forget the nasal congestion, sneezing,.. well than it is possible it is not just common cold but some sort of rhinitis.
What causes such a drastic response of the upper respiratory tract? The most common causes of rhinitis are colds and seasonal allergy.
The unpleasant symptoms of runny nose, sneezing and stuffiness can really make our lives difficult. Rhinitis can be allergic or nonallergic. Nonallergic rhinitis is caused by a viral infection and usually the upper airways are infected. Allergic rhinitis is when allergen enter your nose and causes inflammation. Rhinitis can also be acute or chronic. For acute rhinitis it is typical that it is triggered by a viral infection but this is not the only cause. It can also be a result of allergies, bacteria, etc. Chronic rhinitis on the other hand it is a long standing health problem usually with associated chronic sinusitis. It means that the nasal inflammation is long term, lasting more weeks. Chronic rhinitis can be caused by allergies and can be triggered also by medications, irritants in the air, smoking, pregnancy, asthma, chronic sinusitis. Mixed rhinitis it is a combination of allergic and non-allergic.
If chronic rhinitis hits you, you also experience post-nasal drip. That means that mucus is accumulating in the back of the nose and throat and drips downward from the back of the nose. This can cause sore throat, cough or throat clearing.
Non-allergic rhinitis versus allergic
Chronic rhinitis is divided into two categories:
- Non-allergic rhinitis is often triggered by air pollution, strong odors, tobacco smoke, sick building syndrome. In some cases it is difficult to determine what caused it.
- Allergic rhinitis is an allergic response of body’s immune system to specific allergens such as dust, pet dander, pollen. Immune system overreacts to the presence of allergens and they can also cause watery, reddened and itchy eyes. Puffiness around the eyes is also very common.
More common one is chronic rhinitis that is triggered by allergens. If the rhinitis in infectious (viral or bacterial), it is possible that leads to pneumonia.
Nasal congestion is the main symptom of chronic rhinitis. The need of constantly blowing your nose all the time and only little mucus comes out is the consequence of the swelling of the nasal passages.
Allergic rhinitis causes also itchy eyes, nose, throat and blueish discoloration under the lower eyelids, in principle, however, the symptoms are the same as in chronic rhinitis: runny nose, headaches, sneezing, cough, post-nasal drip, nasal congestion. Symptoms of chronic rhinitis tend to be year-round, while symptoms of allergic rhinitis are seasonal.
Allergic and chronic rhinitis can be caused by many different allergens such as:
- Pet dander
- Dust mites
- flowering grasses
Non-allergic rhinitis doesn’t involve the immune system. When the blood vessels in nose expand, than swelling and congestion occurs.
This type of rhinitis can be triggered by:
- medication (aspirin, ibuprofen, antidepressants, oral contraceptives, beta-blockers),
- overuse of rhinitis nasal medicaments
- hay fever
- gastrointestinal reflux, chronic sinusitits, asthma
- hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, menstruation, thyroid conditions, puberty
- extensive sinus surgery
- deviated septum
- weather changes such as dry or cold air
- hot and spicy drinks or food, alcohol
- upper respiratory infection (flu, cold)
No specific trigger can be found in some people that are bateling persistent rhinitis. When this happens we say it is idiopathic rhinitis and it means, that there is no certain cause found.
Sometimes rhinitis is triggered by our working environment. It is called occupational rhinitis and it is a result of occupational exposures like chemicals, particles, latex, wheat flour, guar gum food processing,… Diagnosing occupational rhinitis is difficult, because often you already have diagnose either allergic or non-allergic rhinitis, but no one focuses on workplace. Occupational rhinitis can significaly impact your quality of life. It is often linked with one or more additional conditions such as occupational asthma, sinusitis, sleep disorders, eustachian tube dysfunction, headaches. So what kind of occupation are we talking about? People who work with or near animals (farm workers, veterinarians,..), agricultural workers (exposure to animals, mold spores, grains), wood industry and wood dust, latex (mostly there is inhalation of powder in latex gloves), working with glues,….
Complications of chronic rhinitis can be sinusitis and nasal polyps. Nasal polyp grows inside of your nose and when fully grown looks like a grape if there is a number of them together or only one single polyp can grow independently. Also they can grow in sinuses as well. This is very annoying because it can affect your smell or a blockage of the nose may appear, causing difficulty breathing and blockage of drainage. They are usually not cancerous swellings and are fleshy. The cause of nasal polyps is mostly not known. It could be from ongoing chronic rhinitis inflammation. Usually both nostrils are affected.
What is good to know?
You can suspect that you do not have a common cold when the symptoms last longer than 14 days and no treatment for cold helps you. Or you may need to be careful in case when your spouse is complaining of a lack of sleep because of your snoring.
Nasal polyps symptoms:
- blocked nose may influence on your voice, you sound different
- snoring and headaches
- postnasal drip that runs down the back of your throat
- difficult breathing through nose and you have to breath through mouth
- when drainage channel is blocked by polyps, you might be more prone to infection of the sinuses
- sleeping apnea
- in rare cases if the polyps are very large it can make our nose and front of your face enlarge.
Chronic rhinitis usually occurs with chronic sinusitis and those two combined it is called chronic rhinosinusitis. It is defined when at least two out of four cardinal symptoms are present:
- nasal obstruction
- facial pain and pressure
- lack of smell or total lost of it
- nasal obstruction.
Chronic sinusitis is a swelling of the lining of your sinuses, it is also an infection and it is also outgrowths known as nasal polyps. It means that the space inside your nose and head is inflamed, swollen. And it can hurt and be very unpleasant.
Symptoms are similar to chronic rhinitis, but there are also other signs such as:
- bad breath
- sore throat
- ear pain
- aching in upper jaw
The sinuses are a connected system of hollow empty cavities in our head. They have a thin layer of mucus. Their role it is not determined, but it is predicted that they help humidify the air we breathe in and that they enhance our voices.
Serious problems of chronic sinusitis complications may include vision problems due to spread infection to eye socket and infections such as in the bones, skin infection and inflammation of the brain membranes and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis).
It lasts for at least 12 consecutive weeks and can affect anyone. Many people mistaken chronic rhinitis for persistent cold. Colds often last a week or so, while chronic rhinitis is much longer.
There are some ways that chronic rhinitis and chronic sinusitis can be discovered:
- physical examination by doctor
- rhinoscopy (with a flexible tuba that has camera on one end a doctor will look into your nose and sinuses)
- allergy test
- sinus cultures (a mucus sample is taken)
- x-ray of sinuses
- MRI or CT scan (for more detailed images of sinuses)
There are ways that can help you treat or at lease relieve the annoying symptoms:
- Nasal saline spray
- Nasal washes
- Nasal steroid spray
- Cleaning airway passage of mucus
In Russia, Sankt – Petersburg Institute of Prophylaxis Medicine and National Institute of Health Saint – Petersburg, mr. Konstatin Gorbenko and mr. Pavel Gorbenko researched impact of halotherapy on chronic rhinitis, respiratory viral infection, disease of breathing system to peoples with external (people working in influence of harm industry or living in region with unfavorable ecological conditions) and internal factors of risks. A huge reduction risk development of chronic illness was found and high effective improvement and treatment. Long time remission and possibility be cured. Patients experienced comfort and positive mental – emotional influence of treatment. Reduce medicament therapy and possibility of abolish medicament remedy. Activation immunity and other factors of protection.
Of course, this is not the only study done. Somehow it is the final conclusion of all research that the main curative factors of halotherapy with dry aerosol of salt are:
- Hypobacterial and allergen-free air environment
- Optimal density of aerosol and aeroions
- Local sanogenic and anti-inflammatory action
- Reduction of hyper sensitization
- Beneficial effect on pituitary membrane and paranasal sinuses
- Mucus reduction
- Reduced edema
Usually very clean salt, without any additives, is used for halotherapy. Extremely small doses of salt neither cause irritation nor increase bronchial mucosa reactivity. For chronic rhinitis, allergic rhinitis, vasomotor rhinitis and rhinosinusopathy halotherapy treatment with dry salt aerosol reduced the edema for 2.1 time.
For chronic rhinitis and sinusitis it is recommended to have one treatment per day for two weeks or at least 3 times per week. Treatment time is 60 minutes for adults, for children is less depending on age, development and size.
Benefits of halotherapy usually last up to 12 months; in some cases even longer.
Frequently asked questions
What causes chronic rhinitis?
Chronic rhinitis is mostly caused by allergens in the atmosphere, such as dust mites, pollen, dander from animals, etc.. Unfortunately, there is no cure for chronic rhinitis, however, symptoms can be treated with medications or, for those looking for a more natural remedy, sal therapy.
What are the symptoms of chronic rhinitis?
Chronic rhinitis manifests itself as a combination of symptoms, such as a runny nose, itching, often sneezing, a stuffy nose and difficulty breathing. The symptoms may very in intensity, depending on the cause and intensity of treatment.
How can halotherapy help with chronic rhinitis?
Chronic rhinitis primarily causes respiratory issues, such as difficulty breathing, runny nose etc. and is mostly caused by an allergic reaction to air particles (pollen, dust mites). A halogenerator uses salt therapy or halotherapy to clear the air and the lungs of any pathogens, thus reducing symptoms.