Everything you need to know about rhinitis

Written by: Mr Irfan Syed
Edited by: Jay Staniland


What is rhinitis?

Rhinitis is the term used to describe inflammation of the lining of the nose. It is a very common problem, affecting an estimated one in five people in the UK.



What are the causes of rhinitis?


There are numerous causes of rhinitis but they can be broadly categorised as non-allergic or allergic rhinitis.

Allergic rhinitis: Common allergens include house dust mites, grass pollen, tree pollen, moulds, animal dander (dead skin cells).

Non-allergic rhinitis: Causes of non-allergic rhinitis include hormonal, occupational and rhinitis medicamentosa – which is a condition brought on by extended use of topical decongestants and certain oral medications that constrict blood vessels in the lining of the nose.


What are the symptoms of rhinitis?


The symptoms of rhinitis include:


  • Blocked nose
  • Runny nose
  • Post nasal drip (mucus that drips down the back of the throat)
  • Impaired sense of smell.

In children it can also be a cause of a persistent cough. Patients with allergic rhinitis often also complain of symptoms like sneezing and itchy, watery eyes.


Is rhinitis a serious problem?


Rhinitis is a serious and underestimated problem as it significantly affects the quality of life of the sufferer. It is responsible for missed days at school and work with data showing poorer performance in examinations in sufferers.

This is unfortunate as with early assessment and treatment it can be managed very well.


How is rhinitis treated?


There is a step ladder approach to treatment of rhinitis. The aim is to stabilise the symptoms of the patient with the minimum amount of medication.

Treatments include saline douches, anti-histamines, topical steroid sprays and surgery in some cases.

An ear, nose and throat specialist will be able to make an assessment of the nose and symptoms in order to tailor individualised treatment for the patient.

By Mr Irfan Syed
Otolaryngology / ENT

Mr Irfan is a leading London ENT and facial plastic surgeon. He treats a wide range of general and paediatric ENT conditions and has a special interest in rhinology (nose and sinuses) and performing facial plastic surgery (nasal reconstruction and management of skin lesions).

He gained fellowship sub-specialty training in rhinology and facial plastic surgery at St George's Hospital London and the Sino-Nasal Institute of Florida. He was awarded the British Rhinological Society Bursary Award for training at the Sinus and Nasal Institute of Florida and the European Rhinological Society Award for training at the Amsterdam Medical Centre. His international training has also taken him to Paris and Vancouver.

In addition to his clinical work, Mr Syed is well recognised for his role in post graduate surgical teaching and is course director for the London Endoscopic Sinus Surgery course, the London Facial Plastic Surgery course, the London ST3 course and the London FRCS (ORL-HNS) Viva course. He has been invited to teach on a number of national and international courses including the Step by Step Rhinoplasty Dissection Course in London and the London Facial Aesthetic Cosmetic Training Course. He is the author of a number of textbooks in medicine and surgery. He has published extensively in peer reviewed literature and presented his work internationally.

He is currently a specialist advisor to the Care Quality Commission and an active committee member for ENT-UK, working to improve the training of future ENT surgeons.

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