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What Causes Nasal Inflammation?

By Susan Grindstaff
Updated May 17, 2024
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Allergies, environmental irritants, or internal problems relating to the anatomy of the nose or nasal passages often cause nasal inflammation. Sometimes this inflammation is caused by cellular irregularities in blood cells called eosinophils and neutrophils. In many cases, inflammation in the nose and nasal passage is a symptom of bacterial or viral infections.

According to most physicians, most nasal inflammation is the result of allergies, and it is estimated that more than 50 million people in the United States alone suffer from some type of allergies. Many of these sufferers have allergies that produce symptoms involving the nasal passages. Common symptoms include runny nose, nasal inflammation, and sneezing. In addition, they may also experience swelling and itching in and around the eyes. Most of these allergies are seasonal, occurring primarily in the spring and fall.

Eosinophils and neutrophils are blood cells that work directly with the body’s immune system. Normally, these blood cells become overactive when the body is experiencing allergy symptoms or infection. As these blood cells work to heal the nasal passage, they sometimes temporarily worsen the condition. In some cases, the cells may become active without the appropriate trigger of infection or allergy. When this happens, nasal inflammation may result without any other underlying cause.

Sinusitis is a type of nasal infection that usually follows prolonged allergy symptoms or colds. These lingering illnesses can have the effect of leaving the immune system in a weakened condition. Sinusitis type infections can be either viral or bacterial, but generally compromises the nose and sinus cavities. Some people suffer from chronic sinusitis, which is sometimes caused by infection resulting from growths within the nasal cavities. Chronic sinusitis may last as long as 10-12 weeks and is typically treated with a combination of steroid-based nasal sprays and antibiotics.

Rhinitis is similar to sinusitis and may result in many of the same symptoms; however, rhinitis does not appear to have allergies as the underlying root cause. The actual cause of rhinitis is not completely understood, but some research seems to suggest that it may be triggered by environmental factors. In most cases, rhinitis is treated with nasal sprays containing steroids such as cortisone or prednisone. In addition, some physicians may recommend nasal irrigation to help clear out the sinus cavities.

Many cases of nasal inflammation are believed to be caused by the common cold. Cold sufferers typically experience inflammation for less than a week, with the condition often clearing up without treatment. If nasal inflammation is accompanied by fever and body aches, it could indicate influenza, and may require the attention of a physician.

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Discussion Comments

By anon947224 — On Apr 24, 2014

I am having a reaction including mouth swelling. I went back to the emergency room and they said that wasn't causing it and told me to finish it as prescribed. I want to just stop taking it but don't know if I can. I'm a long way from medical help. Anyone?

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