Rhinitis is inflammation of the mucous lining of the nose.
Rhinitis is a nonspecific term that covers nasal congestion due to infections, allergies, and other disorders. In rhinitis, the mucous membranes of the nose become infected or irritated, producing a discharge, congestion, and swelling of the tissues.
The most widespread form of infectious rhinitis is the common cold. The common cold is the most frequent viral infection in the general population. Colds are self-limited, lasting about three to 10 days, although they are sometimes followed by a bacterial infection.
Causes & symptoms
Colds can be caused by as many as 200 different viruses which are transmitted by sneezing and coughing, by contact with soiled tissues or handkerchiefs, or by close contact with an infected person.
The onset of a cold is usually sudden. The virus causes the lining of the nose to become inflamed and produce large quantities of thin, watery mucus. The inflammation spreads from the nasal passages to the throat and upper airway, producing a dry cough, headache, and watery eyes. After several days, the nasal tissues become less inflamed and the watery discharge is replaced by a thick, sticky mucus. This change in the appearance of the nasal discharge helps to distinguish rhinitis caused by a viral infection from allergic rhinitis.
Allergies are another frequent cause of rhinitis which is called allergic rhinitis. Allergies occur when a person's immune system overreacts to a substance called an allergen. Airborne allergens can be just about anything but are commonly mold, pollen, dust mites, and pet dander. Symptoms of allergy include watery eyes, nasal discharge, sneezing, and headache.
Rebecca Frey, Belinda Rowland, Teresa G. Odle, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,