Vasomotor rhinitis is a condition that causes chronic sneezing, congestion, or runny nose that can be triggered by pollutants like a dusty environment, odors, foods or beverages, or weather changes. These symptoms can often seem like typical allergic rhinitis (hay fever) symptoms. About 50% of patients with allergies will have some type of vasomotor rhinitis. While vasomotor rhinitis can cause similar symptoms, what is going on in the body is much different. In allergic rhinitis, your immune system is involved and has formed antibodies to the trigger, such as pollen. In vasomotor rhinitis, the triggers merely cause an irritation which causes congestion, sneezing, runny nose. Have you ever had a runny nose from eating a spicy food? That’s a kind of vasomotor rhinitis called gustatory rhinitis.
Many patients will have mild symptoms but if symptoms are constant and very irritating, there are treatment options to help control symptoms. Often, allergy testing will be performed to see how to best manage symptoms. Often times, patients will mistakenly think they may be allergic to a smell or a food, when it’s actually vasomotor rhinitis! It’s important to discuss with your allergist if you are experiencing symptoms like these and have questions, so they can come up with the best recommendations for you!