A runny nose, sneezing, an itchy nose, a stuffed-up head--all these annoying symptoms are signs of rhinitis. Rhinitis is a very common condition. Sometimes it doesn't last very long, such as when you have a viral condition like a cold. But sometimes it just doesn't go away. This is called chronic rhinitis. There are a variety of treatments for chronic rhinitis, depending on what is causing the condition.
Allergies are a well-known cause of chronic rhinitis. Allergies occur when your body thinks that a substance, such as pollen or animal dander, is a germ. One of the ways the body gets rid of germs is by washing them out--hence the runny nose and watery eyes. One way to "treat" chronic allergic rhinitis is to try and avoid whatever it is you're allergic to. There are also medications that calm your body's allergic response by blocking the chemicals that produce mucus and tears. These range from over-the counter antihistamines to prescription medications like Singulair. Immunotherapy shots can accustom your body to certain substances, making allergy attacks weaker or nonexistent.
Chronic rhinitis can also come from being exposed regularly to irritants in the air. These substances don't make your body produce an immune response, like allergens do. Rather they just irritate the nasal passages. These substances include such common substances as tobacco smoke, polluted air, strong perfume, detergents and chlorine. Doctors call chronic rhinitis caused by irritants "vasomotor rhinitis." Nasal sprays, decongestants and antihistamines can help, but the best solution is to avoid the irritating substances or make others stop using them around you. For example, you can ask others not to smoke in your home or place of work.
Hormonal changes can produce rhinitis that won't go away until the hormone imbalance is resolved. Chronic rhinitis is one sign of a thyroid disorder. Women who are pregnant may also find themselves developing rhinitis, because of all the hormone release involved in pregnancy. Birth control pills can also produce chronic rhinitis. This rhinitis can be treated with decongestants, or it will go away when the underlying condition is cured or, in the case of pregnancy, ends.
Birth control pills are only one type of medication that might cause chronic rhinitis. Blood pressure medication and erectile dysfunction medication can also do so. Oddly enough, overuse of nasal decongestant spray can also cause chronic rhinitis. The nasal tissue becomes "addicted" to the spray and swells after the dose wears off. Then the spray user has to apply more spray. The cycle continues, damaging the nasal tissue as it goes on and actually causing the rhinitis the spray was originally supposed to help. A doctor can help end nasal spray addiction and stop further damage from being done to the nose.
Frequently snorting cocaine can injure the nasal passages and cause chronic rhinitis. The condition is similar to that experienced by nasal spray addicts. The nasal passages swell after using cocaine, and the swelling goes down with the next use. Eventually chronic rhinitis sets in, one of the symptoms of "coke nose." If you're experiencing rhinitis from cocaine use, it's better to tell your doctor than to try to keep it secret. Treating the symptoms is better than having your nose fall apart. You might also want to give your cocaine use up entirely.