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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Constant congestion

09/03/1999

Question:

I have been diagnosed with Chronic Rhinitis, but have had numerous antibiotics, nose sprays and antihistimines. Nothing, seems to work for the constant nasal congestion. I am at my wits end, nothing seems to help. I have had allergy testing and the only thing I`m allergic to is Cats! I`m not even around cats. So what is the problem and cure? Constant nasal congestion, sneezing, etc. I need help... Stuffy in Tampa

Answer:

Unfortunately, chronic rhinitis is a nonspecific term, and such a diagnosis does not specifically address the reason for your continued symptoms. There are many factors that can cause nasal congestion.

One of the most common causes would be allergies, and this seems to have been ruled out. Another common condition has been termed vasomotor rhinitis. This is usually associated with chronic nasal congestion and discharge, precipitated by exposure to various irritants. For example, some people are sensitive to tobacco smoke, and exposure results in rhinitis or nasal congestion. The treatment for vasomotor rhinitis is to try to avoid irritant exposure (admittedly difficult), and typically nasal steroid sprays, perhaps an antihistamine spray or pill, and decongestants.

It`s also possible that you have underlying sinus inflammation, and this is causing secondary nasal congestion. This would require further evaluation by an otolaryngologist.

Lastly, some anatomic abnormalities may cause chronic nasal stuffiness, such as a deviated septum. I would strongly consider seeking a thorough evaluation by an otolaryngologist.

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Response by:

Allen M Seiden, MD Allen M Seiden, MD
Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Division of Rhinology and Sinus Disorders, Director of University Taste and Smell Center, Director of University Sinus and Allergy
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati