Rhinitis is the medical term for inflammation and swelling of the nasal passages. The symptoms of rhinitis include swollen, stuffy nasal passages. This is caused by your body's response to irritants, which is to release histamine, a natural amine that dilates blood vessels in the mucosal membranes that line your nasal passages. The result is the swollen, stuffy sensation, often accompanied by sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. The symptoms of rhinitis can also extend to swollen nasal turbinates.

Allergic Rhinitis and Hay Fever - One cause of rhinitis is allergic reaction to inhaled substances, for example, dust, pollen or pet dander. In some cases, an allergy to food or medication can cause swollen airways.

If you experience congestion, sneezing and runny nose every year in the same season, or catch cold frequently, the cause could be hay fever, medically known as allergic rhinitis. The pollen-heavy days of spring, and the dry, dusty conditions of autumn are prime seasons for hay fever. For relief of allergy symptoms, many doctors recommend non-prescription decongestant remedies, or more powerful prescription antihistamines for severe or persistent allergies.

Non-allergic (Vasomotor) Rhinitis- Vasomotor rhinitis is swelling of the airway that is not caused by allergy. It can be triggered by exposure to environmental irritants, dry air, medications, or even intense emotion. Viral and bacterial infections can cause swelling of the nasal tissues, setting off the release of mucous. There's no vaccine at present for rhinovirus, but viral infections typically begin clearing up after 10 days to two weeks. Similar symptoms accompany bacterial infections, which may persist for a longer period. See a doctor if a stuffy, runny nose hangs on for more than about 10 days. If the diagnosis indicates a bacterial infection, the doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics to help end the symptoms and speed recovery.

Learn more about treatment options for Nasal Congestion here.

The information listed on this site is for informational and educational purposes and is not meant as medical advice. Every patient's case is unique and each patient should follow his or her doctor's specific instructions. Please discuss nutrition, medication and treatment options with your doctor to make sure you are getting the proper care for your particular situation.