A Detailed Look at Vasomotor Rhinitis / Non-Allergic Rhinitis

Rhinitis is a type of inflammation of the membranes inside the nose. Vasomotor Rhinitis is a non-allergic type of Rhinitis. This condition occurs when blood vessels inside the nose expand or dilate. Although the symptoms of allergic rhinitis and vasomotor rhinitis overlap significantly, the causes are entirely different.

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Another name of this condition is idiopathic rhinitis. It is not a life threatening condition. Although the symptoms are uncomfortable, they are not detrimental.

While allergic rhinitis is caused by an immune reaction in the nose, vasomotor rhinitis on the other hand occurs when the symptoms are caused by nerve ending reactions inside the nose. In this case the offending substance is referred to as an irritant.

Common irritants of Vasomotor Rhinitis

  • Irritants present in the environment such as smog, second hand smoke, perfumes and odours
  • Weather changes especially dry weather
  • Viral infections such as those affiliated with a flu or cold
  • Spicy and hot drinks or foods
  • Overusing nasal decongestant sprays
  • The aroma of particular trees and flowers can act as an irritant
  • Medications such as oral contraceptives, certain sedatives, ibupfroben (Motril, Advil), aspirin (Bayer), antidepressants and most drugs used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
  • Hormonal changes associated with menstruation and pregnancy
  • Stress
  • Hypothyroidism

Symptoms of Vasomotor Rhinitis

Persons who develop this condition typically showcase the following symptoms:

  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Mucus in the throat

The most bothersome symptoms of vasomotor rhinitis include: sinus headaches, nasal congestion and post nasal drip.

Symptoms come and go throughout the year. Vasomotor Rhinitis does not cause any form of itchiness; an itchy nose, scratchy throat and watery itchy eyes are caused by an allergy.

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How is Vasomotor Rhinitis diagnosed?

This condition is diagnosed after ruling out other causes of the symptoms you are experiencing. If the doctor suspects that you are suffering from this kind of rhinitis they will first perform tests to ascertain that the cause of your symptoms is not an allergy or any other health problem that causes similar symptoms such as a sinus problems

1. Ruling out allergic causes

In most cases Rhinitis is caused by an allergic reaction. To rule out the possibility that the symptoms you are presenting are caused by allergens, a doctor will either carry out a skin or blood test. Since an allergy affects the immune system, a blood test can be done to ascertain whether this important system is functioning normally.

2. Ruling out sinus issues

If a doctor suspects that your symptoms are caused by a sinus problem, an imaging test that helps view sinuses is performed. This can either be a nasal endoscopy or a CT (Computerised Tomography) scan. Using an endoscope (a thin fibre-optic instrument), a doctor will be able to examine sinuses and the nasal passages. The CT scan is better because it produces more detailed images of the sinuses than what a conventional X-ray machine. When a doctor is sure there is no other underlying cause for the showcased symptoms, they make a diagnosis of Vasomotor Rhinitis

Vasomotor Rhinitis Cure

The symptoms of this condition can be controlled and prevented from occurring in the first place. Treatment will depend on how much the symptoms bother an afflicted person. For mild cases, avoiding triggers and using home treatments will suffice. However, for more bothersome symptoms, there are particular medications that can offer relief including:

1. Saline nasal sprays

This over-the-counter nasal spray will help flush out irritants and thin mucus to help soothe nose membranes.

2. Corticosteroid nasal spray

If symptoms are not easily controlled using antihistamines and decongestants, a doctor may suggest using a non-prescription corticosteroid nasal spray like Nasacort (triamcinolone) and Flonase (fluticasone). This type of medication helps in both prevention and treatment of inflammations associated with vasomotor rhinitis.

3. Antihistamine nasal spray

Oral antihistamines are not very effective in controlling symptoms of this condition. On the other prescription antihistamine nasal sprays such olopatadine hydrochloride (Patanase) and azelastine (Astelin, Astepro) can help reduce symptoms considerably.

4. Anti-drip anticholinergic nasal sprays

Ipratropium (Atrovent) is a prescription drug typically used as an asthma inhaler. It is now available as a nasal spray that can help relieve two main symptoms; runny and drippy nose.

5.  Oral decongestants

These are available either through prescription or over-the-counter. They help relieve symptoms by narrowing blood vessels in the nose and reducing nose congestion. Common oral decongestants used to control aomotor rhinitis symptoms include; phenylephrine (Afrin, Neo-Synephrine, Sudafed and others.

Vasomotor Rhinitis Natural Treatment

When the symptoms are mild most doctors recommend home treatments which have no side effects. Additionally, these natural remedies are easy to prepare, readily available and also extremely affordable. Some effective natural remedies include:

1. Consuming Bromelain

This is a plant based enzyme that is available at health food stores. It is believed to posses potent anti-inflammatory properties. 200 to 400 milligrams taken on an empty thrice a day will help reduce inflammation of the nose membranes.

2. Adding Cayenne to food

Cayenne pepper has been proven to be an effective natural nose decongestant. Simply add a pinch to your food. This kind of natural pepper is rich in capsaicin which helps control vasomotor rhinitis by stimulating the nerve fibres of sinuses.

3. Include garlic in food

Garlic can help because it makes mucous less sticky hence promoting its flow rather than building up in the nose which increases inflammation.

4. Use a Neti Pot

vasomotor rhinitis natural treatment neti pot

This device is specifically designed to help flush out sinuses. It is readily available in drug stores. Most neti pots come with a nasal flushing solution. Alternatively, you can prepare one on your own using 2 cups, 1 teaspoon of non-iodised salt and a pinch of baking soda. Using this device is easy; tilt you head to one side then pour the solution into one nostril. Repeat the same procedure on the other nostril.

5. Clear sinuses using lemon and horseradish root

Juice 1 horseradish root and three lemons and only drink half of a teaspoon daily. This solution can stored in a refrigerator for later use.

6. Steam and Eucalyptus essential oil

Add 4 to 6 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil in a steam bath. When combined with steam, this highly potent essential oil not only soothes irritated nasal passages but also helps in clearing nasal congestion.


Vasomotor Rhinitis has a slew of symptoms that can cause extreme discomfort. With the help of a doctor you will be able to come up with an effective treatment regimen that will keep it under control.


Related types of rhinitis:

Exercise Induced Rhinitis

Gustatory Rhinitis

Pregnancy Rhinitis

Rhinitis Medicamentosa

Acute Rhinitis