Rhinitis is inflammation of the mucous lining of the nose.
Rhinitis is a nonspecific term that covers infections, allergies, and other disorders whose common feature is the location of their symptoms. In rhinitis, the mucous membranes 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, causing more absenteeism from school or work than any other illness. Colds are self-limited, lasting about 3-10 days, although they are sometimes followed by a bacterial infection. Children are more susceptible than adults; teenage boys more susceptible than teenage girls; and adult women more susceptible than adult men. In the United States, colds are most frequent during the late fall and winter.
Causes and symptoms
Colds can be caused by as many as 200 different viruses. The viruses are transmitted by sneezing and coughing, by contact with soiled tissues or handkerchiefs, or by close contact with an infected person. Colds are easily spread in schools, offices, or any place where people live or work in groups. The incubation period ranges between 24 and 72 hours.
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. Children sometimes run a fever with a cold. The inflammation spreads from the nasal passages to the throat and upper airway, producing a dry cough, headache, and watery eyes. Some people develop muscle or joint aches and feel generally tired or weak. After several days, the nose becomes 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 rhinitis caused by an allergy.
Rebecca J. Frey, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,