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7 major complications of rhinitis
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7 major complications of rhinitis

Rhinitis can affect your quality of sleep, energy level, even cognition
complications of rhinitis: 1. Sinusitis, 2. Middle ear infections, 3. Nasal polyps, 4. Sleep disturbances, 5. quality of life, 6. Exacerbation of asthma, 7. Environmental factors
Representational image | Shutterstock

Dealing with a runny or stuffy nose can be quite common, but when it becomes persistent, it might be more than just a cold. Rhinitis, the inflammation of the nose’s mucous membrane, is a condition that many of us might encounter at some point.

According to a 2017 study by Rasoul Nasiri, assistant professor of allergy and immunology at Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences, Iran, and his team, it can substantially affect various aspects of quality of life including work, sleep quality, mood, daily activities, education, and productivity.

What is rhinitis?

Dr. Arpit Sharma, consultant – ENT and head neck surgeon at P D Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Mahim, says that rhinitis is the swelling of the tissue inside your nose. “This inflammation can lead to annoying symptoms like a runny or congested nose, sneezing, and itching,” she points out. It can be a short-lived annoyance or a long-standing issue, depending on the cause.

Causes of rhinitis

Rhinitis can be triggered by various factors, including viruses, bacteria, allergens, or irritants. The most common type is allergic rhinitis, which occurs when your nose meets allergens like pollen or animal dander. Understanding what’s causing your rhinitis is crucial for effective management.

Complications from rhinitis

Dr Shantanu Tandon, senior ENT surgeon, airway and sleep apnea specialist, at Sakra World Hospital in Bengaluru, says that rhinitis itself might not sound too serious, but it can lead to complications that are worth paying attention to. “Its complications can significantly affect one’s quality of life. Recognising and addressing these challenges is key to comprehensive management,” he says.

Experts list the following complications related to rhinitis

  1. Sinusitis:

    Chronic rhinitis may lead to the development of sinusitis. When the nasal passages are congested, mucus can accumulate, providing an ideal environment for bacterial growth.

  2. Middle ear infections:

    The eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the back of the nose. If the nasal passages are congested, the eustachian tube may become blocked, increasing the risk of middle ear infections.

  3. Nasal polyps:

    Prolonged inflammation may lead to the formation of nasal polyps, which are noncancerous growths that can block the nasal passages, causing difficulty breathing.

  4. Sleep disturbances:

    Chronic rhinitis can lead to disrupted sleep patterns due to nasal congestion, snoring, and difficulty breathing. This may result in daytime fatigue and reduced overall well-being.

  5. Impaired quality of life:

    Persistent symptoms such as nasal congestion, sneezing, and postnasal drip can negatively affect the person’s daily activities, work, and social interactions.

  6. Exacerbation of asthma:

    Rhinitis is commonly associated with asthma, and the two conditions often coexist. Rhinitis can worsen asthma symptoms and vice versa, leading to increased respiratory problem.

  7. Environmental factors:

    Allergens like pollen, dust mites, and air pollution can contribute to rhinitis complications. They can trigger allergic reactions, worsen inflammation, and even enhance the allergenicity of environmental factors, making rhinitis symptoms more intense.

Treatment options

The good news is that rhinitis can be managed effectively. Dr Sharma says that rhinitis can be treated in various ways depending on clinical examination. “The most commonly used treatment modalities are oral or nasal antihistamines, nasal sprays, antibiotics, and immunotherapy,” she says.

Rhinitis might seem like a minor inconvenience, but if it is persistent, it can be a nuisance. However, it can be managed effectively by understanding its causes, symptoms, and potential complications. Whether it is allergies, irritants, or a combination of factors, finding the right treatment and making lifestyle adjustments can help one breathe easier and enjoy life without the constant sniffles. If you find yourself amid a rhinitis battle, consult with a healthcare professional to create a personalised plan for a sniffle-free life.

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