Chronic Rhinitis

Chronic Rhinitis

Chronic rhinitis affects more than 24 million people in the United States. It is a recurrent nasal blockage/discharge that doesn’t resolve on its own, and symptoms often result from the constant irritation or inflammation of the inner lining of the nose.  One of the most common characteristics of chronic rhinitis is postnasal drip, which is mucus that accumulates in the back of the nose and throat that drips down from the back of the nose.  Postnasal drip may lead to a chronic sore throat, a chronic cough, or throat clearing.

What are Symptoms of Chronic Rhinitis?

Symptoms of chronic rhinitis usually include:

  • Congestion
  • Mouth breathing
  • Sinus pressure
  • Sinus infections
  • Runny nose
  • Postnasal drip
  • Chronic cough
  • Sore throat

What is Allergic Rhinitis?

With allergic rhinitis (hay fever) symptoms often occur due to an allergic reaction to an allergen.  The most common allergen is pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds. Other allergens may include pet dander, dust mites, indoor and outdoor molds, and some workplace irritants.  Food is not a common cause of allergic rhinitis in adults, but certain foods may cause nasal symptoms in some young children. Symptoms generally include sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion and itching of the nose and throat. Nasal discharge is usually clear and watery.

Treatment for allergic rhinitis includes allergy medicine or immunotherapy (allergy drops or shots).

What is Non-Allergic Rhinitis?

Non-allergic or vasomotor rhinitis is associated with changes in the central nervous system’s control of the blood vessels in the nose.  This overactive nerve in the nose stimulates the lining of the nose to become congested, runny, and have postnasal drip. As a result, people are more sensitive to various factors including changes in humidity or exposure to chemicals (e.g., fumes, smoke, drafts or wind).

How Do You Know Which Kind You Have?

If you only have symptoms at certain times of the year, you most likely have allergic rhinitis.  However, if the allergen is pet dander or house dust, you would have symptoms year-round, which is referred to as perennial allergic rhinitis.

People who have non-allergic rhinitis do not respond to allergy treatments and allergy testing is negative.  Unlike allergic rhinitis, non-allergic rhinitis doesn’t involve the immune system. And non-allergic rhinitis rarely causes an itchy nose, eyes or throat as the allergic form does.

What Else Can Cause Rhinitis?

Nasal obstructions, such as a deviated septum, nasal polyps, or a foreign body (particularly in children), can lead to congestion.  Sinus infections may also lead to nasal congestion and produce a colored nasal discharge.

How is Chronic Rhinitis Diagnosed?

Your ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and will examine your nose. After your initial assessment, your ENT doctor may order a sinus x-ray to see if a sinus infection is present. Allergy skin testing may also be done to find out whether certain allergens are triggering some or all of your nasal symptoms.

What Treatments Are Available for Chronic Rhinitis?

There are many options available to treat chronic rhinitis.  Your doctor may first take a medical management approach and prescribe medications, such as nasal antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids, or oral antihistamines to help alleviate your symptoms. There are also some home remedies like nasal irrigation that can help, as well as some over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays.

Your ENT doctor may also advise you to avoid triggers that cause your symptoms, such as wood-burning stoves and fireplaces, cleaning agents and household sprays, perfumes, and scented products. You may also be advised to quit smoking or not to be around people who smoke, especially if this is one of your triggers.

If you don’t respond to medical management of your symptoms, your ENT doctor may prescribe ClariFix treatment (this treatment is only available by prescription).

ClariFix FAQs

What is ClariFix?

ClariFix is an FDA-cleared medical device used for treating chronic rhinitis in adults. ClariFix cryotherapy uses breakthrough cooling technology to target the root of the problem–the inflamed nasal tissue and the underlying nerves–cooling them to freezing temperatures to reduce nerve signals and improve nasal symptoms.  This treatment provides long-term chronic rhinitis symptom relief, reducing symptoms of a runny nose and congestion.

How is the Procedure Done?

During the procedure, your doctor places the ClariFix balloon inside the nose (under endoscopic guidance) on the nerve that causes the chronic rhinitis and it is rapidly cooled using nitrogen gas.  

Is ClariFix an In-Office Procedure?

Yes, ClariFix can be done in your ENT doctor’s office under local anesthesia.

Is the Procedure Painful?

Most patients tolerate treatment very well.  In a study of 27 patients, the cryotherapy was well-tolerated and patients reported an average pain rating of 1.19 on the Wong-Baker FACES pain scale (0 = minimum score, 5 = maximum score).

Are there Side Effects to Treatment?

With any cryosurgery procedure, there are some side effects, but those associated with the nasal passageway include, pain/discomfort, headache, facial pain, bleeding, dry nose, and ear blockage.  These symptoms usually resolve on their own immediately after treatment or within a week or two after treatment.

How Long Does Treatment Take?

The ClariFix device uses a special cooling probe to freeze a small area of nasal tissue in the back of the nose.  The cooling time takes just a few minutes, and patients can go home within 30 minutes after the procedure.

Is the Procedure Safe?

ClariFix is safe.  In a clinical study, the ClariFix device was found to be well-tolerated with no device or procedure-related serious adverse events.

Is There Downtime for Recovery?

There is minimal downtime for recovery from this treatment.  Most patients can return to normal activities the next day.  

How Long Before You See An Improvement?

Most patients begin to see improvement between 7 days and 30 days post-treatment.

Will You Need Nasal Medications After Treatment?

After treatment, patients are advised to use saline irrigation for 3 weeks to help with temporary congestion.

Does Clarifix Treatment Provide Lasting Results?

ClariFix treatment provides a longer lasting solution as it targets your nasal nerves that may be out of balance, causing your nasal symptoms. In interrupting the pathways of nasal nerves, ClariFix treatment reduces your symptoms associated with chronic rhinitis.

In a clinical study, 4 out of 5 people reported long-lasting improvement with the ClariFix device, including a reduction in symptoms of a runny nose and congestion.  Chronic rhinitis symptoms improved by 56 percent at 90 days and improvement was maintained at 1 year.

Contact Us

If you are interested in treatment for chronic rhinitis, contact CT Sinus Center at (203) 574-5997 to set up a consultation.