Think You Have a Cold, Allergies? It Could Be Something Else.

Published 11/07 2013 08:25PM

Updated 11/07 2013 10:22PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- If a runny nose has you running for the cold medicine in your cabinet more often than not, you might be in for a surprise.

You might not have a common cold at all, but a disorder that mimics it.

Rhinitis is inflammation of the mucus membranes in your nose.

Non-allergic rhinitis, known as NAR is a diagnosis based on exclusion.

The blood vessels inside the nose expand, causing the lining of the nose to swell.

That stimulates musuc glands, causing them to become congested and runny.

"My nose is getting stuffy, my throat is getting scratchy, and my eyes will water," says Cheri Meringolo, an allergy sufferer.

The inside of the nose becomes inflamed leading to symptoms like sneezing, blocked nose, itching, and other cold symptoms without fever.

This is usually a chronic condition that is different then a common cold, which can have similar symptoms.

"I wish I had stock in tissue companies,” says Marsha Smith, who suffers from non-allergic rhinitis.

Antihistamines are usually used with people who have allergies.

"And really all they do is make me go to sleep,” says Smith.

Treatment is usually nasal saline irrigation, decongestants, and corticosteroids.

Now, nasal sprays help widen the airways, which help breathing and they help decrease the production of mucus.

"This year is the best I’ve had it feels pretty good to be able to get up and come to work in the morning,” says Smith.

Treatment is important to help avoid other infections like ear infections or sinusitis infection.

Non-allergic rhinitis is more likely to be found in patients who have no family history of allergies and the onset of symptoms usually start after the age of 35, which is much later in life compared to patients with allergic rhinitis.

The reason for this is unknown.

You can help prevent symptoms by avoiding known triggers and staying hydrated.


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