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Vasomotor Rhinitis. Easily Misdiagnosed?

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Vasomotor rhinitis implies a hyperactive nose, where the nose overreacts to allergens, causing it to be blocked and runny very frequently. A hyperactive nose responds quickly to irritants and can lead to a runny nose at the slightest discomfort.

However, it can mean a variety of different things to different people and tends to cause a considerable amount of confusion for those trying to understand it. Medically, vasomotor means change in blood vessel diameter. The exact causes are unknown which results in it being over diagnosed, and used as the explanation of any nasal irritation whose cause cannot be easily identified.

Unlike hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, sneezing, or itchiness usually does not accompany this type of rhinitis problem. If you truly have a hyperactive nose, then you will primarily experience only a runny or stuffy nose with few other symptoms.

Unlike other allergy problems, this type of rhinitis primarily affects adults, with an even higher frequency of occurrence among the elderly.


A wide variety of irritants can set off a reaction when you have a hyperactive nose.

  • Temperature Changes
  • Cold Dry Air (During the winter, or if you go skiing)
  • Humidity Changes
  • Alcohol
  • Strong Scents
  • Perfumes
  • Chemicals
  • Pollutants
  • Cigarette Smoke


True vasomotor rhinitis symptoms should only be a runny or stuffy nose. This is because an overactive nose gets set off at the slightest irritation, when no other allergy symptoms have yet occured.

  • Runny Nose
  • Stuffy Nose
  • Little or No Sneezing
  • Little or No Itching

If you have itchy eyes, red eyes, or other hay fever symptoms, your allergy issue is probably larger than just a sensitive nose.


The best vasomotor rhinitis treatment is an anticholinergic drug. This is one that blocks the normal the action of the nerves in the nose that cause the swelling. Unfortunately, this type of treatment is not available in the United States.

The standard treatment is corticosteroid drops, antihistamines, or decongestants. Corticosteroids are useful in reducing inflammation if the nose is heavily blocked. Antihistamines and decongestants on the other hand can be used to dry up mucus.

One unusual treatment is to engage in strenuous exercise. Any significant amount of activity requires the nervous system to be engaged, and this can be beneficial in unblocking your nose.