Factors that may increase your risk of nonallergic rhinitis include:

  • Exposure to irritants. If you're exposed to smog, exhaust fumes or tobacco smoke — to name a few — you may be at increased risk of developing nonallergic rhinitis.
  • Being older than age 20. Unlike allergic rhinitis, which usually occurs before age 20, often in childhood, nonallergic rhinitis occurs after age 20 in most people.
  • Prolonged use of decongestant nasal drops or sprays. Using over-the-counter decongestant nasal drops or sprays (Afrin, Dristan, others) for more than a few days can actually cause more severe nasal congestion when the decongestant wears off, often called rebound congestion.
  • Being female. Due to hormonal changes, nasal congestion often gets worse during menstruation and pregnancy.
  • Occupational exposure to fumes. In some cases nonallergic rhinitis is triggered by exposure to an airborne irritant in the workplace (occupational rhinitis). Some common triggers include aircraft fuel or jet exhaust, solvents, or other chemicals and fumes from decomposing organic material such as compost.
  • Having certain health problems. A number of chronic health conditions can cause or worsen rhinitis, such as hypothyroidism and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Feb. 19, 2013

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