Medical quality assurance by Dr. Albrecht Nonnenmacher, MD at March 29, 2016

Coryza is the medical term that is used interchangeably for rhinitis. When it is used to refer to allergies, it is also called hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Rhinitis involves irritation and swelling of the mucous membranes of the nostrils inside the nose. Though uncomfortable, it is not a serious medication condition and doesn't require hospitalization.


Definition & Facts

Many have what is called perennial allergies that flare up during times when ragweed and pollen counts are at their highest. While most people present with allergen-related rhinitis, rhinitis can be caused by viruses and bacteria.

Symptoms & Complaints

Those who experience rhinitis, in any variety, usually present with the same variation of symptoms. The hallmark symptom is a runny nose. Other symptoms including watery eyes and itchy eyes, sneezing, congestion, and various common cold symptoms. Some report that their nose drips like a faucet due to the excessive amount of mucus from the inflammation.

Coughing also comes along with this condition, as the post-nasal drip tends to go down the back of the throat. The coughing acts as a way for the body to clear the mucus from the throat area. The throat may also be sore due to the mucus flow and from the coughing. Sinus cavities can also become blocked and cause dizziness and a general malaise.


Common allergic causes are animal dander, mold and mildew as well as pollen in the air. Allergens that can be inhaled through the air often trigger the allergic variety. Aside from allergies, rhinitis can be caused by a viral infection or a bacterial infection. Some common viruses and bacteria that cause infections leading to rhinitis include:

Diagnosis & Tests

Presentation of symptoms and a physical examination performed by the doctor are primary means by which diagnosis occurs. When the cause is suspected to be a bacterial infection, blood tests and saliva tests may be administered. To determine if the rhinitis is caused by allergies, a doctor can perform a physical examination. Allergy testing is the easiest way to determine what chronic sufferers are allergic to.

Skin allergy tests are done by pricking or scratching the skin of the back or forearm. If there is more than one item that is suspected to be the cause of the rhinitis, the doctor will test all of those allergens at once. If there is a positive response to the testing, the spot will have redness and swelling. Blood tests that test for allergen-specific antibodies can also assist in diagnosis and ruling out allergies as a cause.

To determine if there is a non-allergic and non-infectious cause of the swelling, doctors can also use endoscopy, in which the physician inserts an endoscope into the nasal cavity and explores whether there is a structural problem with the nasal cavity such as a deviated septum that may be causing the problem.

Treatment & Therapy

If one is suffering from the allergic rhinitis, he or she will need to find the source of the problem and attempt to eliminate the source first. If the allergen is caused from pet dander, removing the pet can be a resolution. Allergy medications such as antihistamine are able to reduce inflammation and allow some relief to the sneezing and coughing.

During spring and fall months when pollen counts are at their highest, many people will be affected by seasonal allergies/rhinitis. Doctors can prescribe year round meditations, or just seasonal ones, to help those who suffer continuously.

When the conditions are bacterial in nature, antibiotics may be prescribed. The infection needs to be treated before the symptoms will dissipate. If the problem is viral, over the counter medicines such as decongestants can help abate symptoms until the underlying infection clears up, shrinking the nasal passages and drying up any mucus in the lungs and nose.

Prevention & Prophylaxis

Once the source of the allergens is identified, a proactive stance can help to reduce symptoms without medicine. For instance, those who are allergic to dust can try remedies like removing the carpet and switching to hard wood floors, or having their HVAC system cleaned to remove dust particles.

Some have found comfort in a nasal irrigation system that sends warm spring water through the nasal passages and clears out any mucus along the way. Another option is an air purification system. These can remove toxins in the air and bring some relief to those who chronically suffer.

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