It’s estimated that up to one out of every 10 Americans suffers from intermittent episodes of sneezing or a congested, drippy nose for no apparent cause. It may seem as if the person has hay fever, as the symptoms are similar, but there isn’t evidence to link the congestion and other symptoms with an allergy.
This is nonallergic rhinitis, clinically known as vasomotor rhinitis.
Dr. Daneshrad diagnoses and treats the irritating symptoms of vasomotor rhinitis at his locations in Santa Monica and Torrance.
What Is Vasomotor Rhinitis?
The term vasomotor has its base in “vaso,” which means blood vessels, and “motor,” which refers to the nerves. “Rhinitis” means inflammation of the nose. Vasomotor rhinitis has symptoms that point to an allergic reaction, but allergies are ruled out as the cause. In some cases, irritants or temporary allergens can be behind the inflammation; in others, there is no specific cause, hence another name for vasomotor rhinitis — idiopathic rhinitis.
What Are The Symptoms Of Vasomotor Rhinitis?
The symptoms of vasomotor rhinitis may come and go throughout the year. They may be constant or last several weeks. These are common symptoms:
- Stuffy nose
- Runny nose
- Mucus in the throat/postnasal drip
Unlike with allergic rhinitis, patients with vasomotor rhinitis will NOT have these symptoms:
- Itchy nose
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Scratchy throat
What Causes Vasomotor Rhinitis?
The exact cause of nonallergic rhinitis is unknown. The condition occurs when blood vessels in the nose expand and fill the nasal lining with blood and fluid.
These include hyperresponsive nerve endings in the nose, not unlike the way the lungs react when a person has asthma. Despite having lots of different triggers, vasomotor rhinitis always exhibits the same symptoms of swollen nasal membranes, congestion, or excessive mucus.
Research has linked idiopathic rhinitis to many different triggers:
- Irritants in the environment such as perfumes, odors, smog, or secondhand smoke
- Changes in the weather, particularly dry weather
- Viral infections such as those associated with a cold or flu
- Hot or spicy foods or drinks
- Medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, beta-blockers, certain sedatives, antidepressants, oral contraceptives, or drugs to treat erectile dysfunction
- Overuse of nasal decongestant sprays
- Hormonal changes associated with pregnancy or menstruation
Can Vasomotor Rhinitis Cause Headaches?
Headaches may result from periods of inflammation, but it’s not thought vasomotor rhinitis is the cause.
How Is Vasomotor Rhinitis Diagnosed?
Dr. Daneshrad diagnoses vasomotor rhinitis by ruling out other causes of your symptoms. First, he tests to see if you have hay fever, as the symptoms are very similar. To test for this, he may use a skin test. He may request blood work to see if your immune system is functioning normally.
He’ll check for sinus problems. Again, there is a commonality of symptoms. If he suspects sinus problems, he’ll use a nasal endoscope to get visuals of the inside of your sinuses.
When he rules out all other causes, or simply cannot find a cause, it’s likely vasomotor rhinitis.
How Is Vasomotor Rhinitis Treated?
The treatment approaches taken by Dr. Daneshrad will take into account how much the condition bothers you. If your symptoms are relatively mild, home treatment such as nasal irrigation with a neti pot and avoiding triggers could be enough. But if your idiopathic rhinitis is bothering you to a greater degree, Dr. Daneshrad could recommend or use any of these medications:
- Saline nasal sprays — Over-the-counter nasal saline spray or a homemade saltwater solution are used to flush the irritants from your nose and to help thin the mucus.
- Antihistamine nasal sprays — Dr. Daneshrad can prescribe a prescription antihistamine spray such as azelastine (brand names Astelin and Astepro) and olopatadine hydrochloride (Patanase). Oral antihistamines don’t seem to have much effect on nonallergic rhinitis, but nasal antihistamine sprays can reduce symptoms.
- Corticosteroid nasal sprays — If a saline or antihistamine nasal sprays aren’t working, Dr. Daneshrad may put you on a prescription corticosteroid nasal spray. There are also nonprescription options (brand names Flonase or Nasacort). Corticosteroids work by preventing or lessening inflammation. They can create some side effects, namely nasal dryness, nosebleeds, headaches, and throat dryness.
- Anti-drip anticholinergic nasal sprays — A prescription drug often used in asthma inhalers, ipratropium (Atrvent), is now available as a nasal spray, and it has shown to be helpful for runny, drippy nose symptoms. Its side effects may include nosebleeds and drying of the inside of the nose.
- Decongestants — Unlike oral antihistamines, oral decongestants such as Sudafed or Neo-Synephrine can help vasomotor rhinitis. They work to narrow the blood vessels, reducing congestion in the nose. These can have the side effects of restlessness, heart palpitations, and high blood pressure.
If these medications aren’t working or you seek another treatment approach, Dr. Daneshrad offers ClariFix, which uses cryotherapy to calm the hyperreactive nerves in the nose.
ClariFix cryotherapy doesn’t seek to mitigate symptoms, but it addresses the nerves that can be responsible for the patient’s rhinitis.
ClariFix is a simple in-office treatment that Dr. Daneshrad performs in our Santa Monica and Torrance offices. The patient only needs a local anesthetic. Dr. Daneshrad inserts the ClariFix device and an endoscope into the back of the nose, the location of the overactive nerves. The device then delivers cold therapy using its cooling probe. This is applied for just a few minutes. During this time, the patient feels slight pressure and a cooling sensation, but these are not painful treatments.
After your ClariFix treatment, you may have some increased congestion for a day or so, but this resolves. Patients generally see improvement with ClariFix between 2 and 6 weeks after their treatment.
Are These Treatments Safe?
The above-described nasal sprays and oral decongestants used by Dr. Daneshrad for treating vasomotor rhinitis have all been approved by the FDA. They have been tested and are safe. They can have minimal side effects, such as nosebleed, as described above.
ClariFix is the first and only FDA-approved medical device used to treat chronic rhinitis in adults.
How Dangerous Is Vasomotor Rhinitis?
This is not a dangerous condition; it is only an irritating one. If your idiopathic rhinitis continues untreated, there is a chance of developing noncancerous nasal polyps, which can impede airflow. Prolonged nasal congestion due to vasomotor rhinitis may increase your chances of developing sinusitis (sinus infection). Increased fluid and nasal congestion may also lead to middle ear infections.
Rather than health impairing, vasomotor rhinitis is more an intrusion into your daily life. It can make a person less productive and it can cause you to miss more work or school if symptoms flare-up. Dr. Daneshrad can help you manage your condition.
Does A ClariFix Treatment Hurt?
No. Before beginning the brief procedure, the doctor will administer a topical numbing spray into the nose. This medication prevents pain signals for some time. In fact, you may still feel slightly numb when you leave the office so will need to postpone eating or drinking much until you’ve regained full sensation! During the procedure, you should feel only some pressure and a cooling sensation. After the numbing wears off, you may notice mild facial or head pain. If you need, you can take over-the-counter acetaminophen to support optimal comfort.
How Many ClariFix Treatments Will I Need?
Just one treatment is all that is needed to achieve good patient outcomes.
Are The Results Of My ClariFix Treatment Permanent?
It’s difficult to predict how long the results of ClariFix will last for every person. In one independent review, performed by the International Forum of Allergy and Rhinology, we can see a wide range of results in terms of longevity. These span from 30 days to 365 and everything in between. With that, we usually anticipate results to last about one year.
Will I Still Need Nasal Medications After The Procedure?
Clinical studies have shown that the ClariFix procedure can reduce many of the symptoms of chronic rhinitis. These include runny nose, nasal congestion, nasal itching, allergy symptoms, and sneezing. In the past, vasomotor rhinitis had been treated surgically, by cutting the nerve responsible for symptoms. Though the surgery could be effective, it was also risky and could have undesired consequences. ClariFix does not sever the nerve; it reduces its function and over-reactivity using cryotherapy.
While most patients achieve significant improvement in their nasal symptoms after the ClariFix procedure, there is a chance that you may still need medication. Usually, if medication is needed, it’s for short-term use to get through stimulation from a known trigger.
Will ClariFix Work For Me?
To gain FDA approval, ClariFix had to establish trustworthy data regarding safety and efficacy. In clinical trials, the procedure worked successfully in 80 percent of patients. This percentage reported long-lasting relief from their rhinitis symptoms beginning as early as two weeks after undergoing the targeted cryotherapy treatment. It may take up to six weeks for you to fully realize the effects of the ClariFix procedure. These effects may be a full elimination of previous symptoms or a reduction of them.
What Side Effects Might Occur After ClariFix Treatment?
This treatment is safe and has few associated side effects. Dr. Daneshrad will review them in more detail with you during your consultation. Some of the side effects that have been reported include:
- Dry nose
- Facial pain
- The sensation of blocked ears
It’s important to know that some people develop side effects and others do not. This cannot be predicted. If side effects do occur, they can last from a few days to a few months. They should improve over time without the need for further intervention.
Schedule Your Consultation Today
If you’re interested in learning more about vasomotor rhinitis please contact us for a consultation at 310.453.6500 or fill out our contact us form. We will discuss your needs and concerns, and determine your best course of action.