What is chronic rhinitis?

Chronic rhinitis is a long-term inflammation of the inner nose lining. If your rhinitis symptoms persist for more than four weeks, it is considered to be chronic rhinitis. There are many possible causes of rhinitis, including triggers that can irritate or inflame the lining of the nose, or a neural (nerve-related) imbalance which results in an influx of signals to the inner nose, causing the nose to swell and produce a lot more runny discharge than usual.

Symptoms of Chronic Rhinitis

  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy or blocked nose
  • Itching of the nose
  • Persistent urge to sniff
  • Nasal congestion
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Coughing


Chronic rhinitis is caused by over-stimulation of the nose. Things that could trigger this include:

  • Allergies – Hay fever, dust allergies.
  • Irritants – Second-hand smoke, some perfumes, fumes.
  • Weather changes – Humidity or very hot weather.
  • Dietary factors – Food sensitivities can develop at any age and may trigger an allergic reaction. Spicy food and alcohol are both known to irritate the lining of the nose.
  • Medications – If you notice the symptoms of rhinitis after beginning a course of new medicines, you should stop taking this medication and consult your doctor.
  • Other health conditions – Viral infections such as a cold or the flu, sleep apnoea, acid reflux, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes.
  • Hormonal changes – This includes pregnancy, menstruation, contraceptive use and menopause.


There are a few complications that can arise from long-term chronic rhinitis. These include:

Nasal polyps – These benign lumps form in the nose lining or sinuses and are caused by long-term inflammation. They can block the airway and hinder breathing.

Sinusitis – Sinus infections can flare up due to the continued irritation of the lining of the nose and sinuses.

Impacting on day-to-day quality of life – Chronic rhinitis can disrupt your daily activities and affect your mental health. It can reduce your productivity and make you feel tired due to lack of sleep.


There are several ways of treating the symptoms of chronic rhinitis. The best thing to do is to have a consultation with an ENT professional, such as London ENT, to determine the best treatment for you.

Treatment options include:

  • Nasal sprays
  • Nasal drops
  • Anti-allergy medications (antihistamines)
  • Saltwater nasal rinses/douching
  • Steam inhalations


If your symptoms continue despite the above treatments, there are some surgical options available, although these are not suitable or appropriate in all cases. Surgical options include trimming the lining of the nose either by cauterisation to the inferior turbinates, or coblation. Occasionally surgical reduction might need to be considered.

There are also some new minimally invasive treatments becoming available soon which involve cryotherapy to the nerves in the nose responsible for the production of the majority of the internal nasal swelling and nasal discharge. ClarifixTM is one such treatment and can be undertaken under a local anaesthetic, sometimes with sedation.

For information on the specialist ENT treatments and consultations we offer at London ENT, contact us on 0203 865 7225.