Allergic Rhinitis

A runny nose, sneezing, and stuffiness are common problems associated with allergic rhinitis. They can be caused by infections, allergies, non-allergic nasal disease (vasomotor rhinitis), nasal polyps, deviated septum, chronic sinusitis and other difficulties.
Allergic rhinitis, often referred to as hay or rose fever, can cause:

  • Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
  • Stuffy nose
  • Plugged ears
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
Note: Hayfever does not cause a fever.

Allergic rhinitis can either be year-round or seasonal. Causes of year-round allergic rhinitis include animals, mold, house dust and feathers.

In our region, seasonal allergic rhinitis is caused by tree pollen in the spring (April and May), grass pollen in early and midsummer (late May, June, and early July) and weed pollen, primarily ragweed, in late summer and early fall (August and September). Learn more about fall allergies.

Molds, which can also cause hayfever, appear in the warm months, usually from early spring until later fall.


While having the same symptoms as allergic rhinitis, non-allergic rhinitis (vasomotor rhinitis) is not caused by allergies or sinus problems. Symptoms are more chronic (ongoing) and usually are present all year. However, they are often worse in the winter. At present, the cause of non-allergic rhinitis is unknown. Here are more details about non-allergic rhinitis:

  • Sneezing and a runny or stuffy nose may occur without a clear reason. However, symptoms are often brought on by irritants such as fumes, fresh newsprint, strong odors, smoke and all types of dust, including road dust, garage dust, and house dust.
  • Alcoholic beverages also may cause nasal congestion.
  • Some people develop symptoms during changes in temperature or wind.
  • Changes in body temperature also may bring on symptoms.
  • People with nonallergic rhinitis may sneeze and become congested when they remove bedclothes or put their feet on a cold floor in the morning. Symptoms are sometimes worse in the morning when you first get up.
  • In severe cases, you can lose your sense of taste and smell.
  • One type of non-allergic rhinitis, nasal congestion during pregnancy, usually clears after delivery.
  • Certain medications cause nasal congestion such as the blood pressure pill Hytrin.
  • Nasal septal deviation and other structural nose problems also lead to nasal congestion.


Small, benign (non-cancerous) tumors in the nose can sometimes cause a runny nose and stuffiness. If nasal polyps grow large enough, they can block the nasal passages. A sinus infection can develop if the polyps obstruct sinus drainage. In rare cases. severe infection and large polyps can cause the bones surrounding the nose and sinuses to wear away.

Do I Need to See an Allergist?

Find yourself wondering if you should see an allergist for you allergy symptoms? Dr. Bubak, board certified allergist at Dakota Allergy and Asthma, will walk you through a simple allergy assessment review things like your symptoms, over-the-counter (OTC) medication options, how you respond to those options and even how you liked the OTC medications.