Millions of people suffer from the trials and tribulations of seasonal and year long rhinitis. All that sneezing, coughing, and nose blowing is enough to drive anyone crazy, but when added to the already uncomfortable fibromyalgia syndrome, allergies can really make life difficult.
About 6 million people in the United States suffer from fibromyalgia, a syndrome characterized by chronic muscle and joint pain. The majority of those with fibromyalgia also have to contend with rhinitis symptoms, making going to work, socializing with friends, and getting a good night’s sleep very difficult. If you have fibromyalgia, discuss your allergy symptoms with your health care provider to find a treatment suitable for you.
What is Rhinitis?
Rhinitis literally means inflammation of the nose. These days, most of us refer to rhinitis simply as an allergy that causes incessant sneezing, a frustratingly runny nose, and itchy or watery eyes. Rhinitis can be caused by pretty much anything, from mold spores to cat dander, and can plague people chronically or just during specific seasons. However long your allergy symptoms last, though, they can really zap your energy and enjoyment of life.
Rhinitis in Fibromyalgia
The rhinitis allergy signs that many fibromyalgia sufferers experience are unique in that they are not actually triggered by any specific allergy. This type of rhinitis is referred to as non-allergic rhinitis (also known as irritant rhinitis and vasomotor rhinitis). Allergic rhinitis is triggered by specific things in the environment and this causes antibodies to manifest in your blood. However, non-allergic rhinitis will not produce these antibodies. This means that, though your symptoms flare up when you are exposed to certain triggers, they are not actually caused by an allergy to those triggers.
Non-allergic rhinitis affects between 5% and 10% of the North American population. Its symptoms are identical to those caused by allergic rhinitis and can plague you for weeks or even months. Fibromyalgia sufferers are very likely to experience non-allergic rhinitis. About 70% of fibromyalgia patients are diagnosed with non-allergic rhinitis every year, but close to 90% of people with fibromyalgia complain of nasal allergies with constant runny noses and congestion. These allergy symptoms make it very difficult to sleep at night, adding to the chronic fatigue that many fibromyalgia sufferers already have to contend with.
Triggers of Non-Allergic Rhinitis
Most rhinitis allergies are triggered by plants, animals, or spores. Generally, allergy sufferers can steer clear of these triggers, at least during certain seasons. People with fibromyalgia though tend to have numerous triggers that are not only limited to plants or animals. In fact, almost anything can trigger symptoms of non-allergic rhinitis in fibromyalgia sufferers, including:
- plants and grass
- animal/pet dander
- air pollution
- chemicals (such as cleaning solvents and paints)
- strong odors including perfume and soap
- spicy foods
- weather changes
- extreme temperatures (both hot and cold)
Symptoms of Non-Allergic Rhinitis
Non-allergic rhinitis symptoms are actually very similar to allergic rhinitis symptoms. Though the rhinitis symptoms aren’t serious, they can be very annoying and would try anyone’s patience.
- constant sneezing
- runny nose
- dry nose or nasal congestion
- post nasal drip
- chronic cough
- itchy, watery, and red eyes
- sinus congestion
Causes of Non-Allergic Rhinitis in Fibromyalgia
The causes of non-allergic rhinitis have long eluded scientists, doctors, and researchers. However there now seems to be some consensus on the issue. One factor that contributes to non-allergic rhinitis is nerve sensitivity.
Fibromyalgia causes the brain to magnify pain signals – this is what causes the intense muscle pain of the disorder. The brain also magnifies pain signals given off by the nose, causing extreme nerve sensitivity in the area. This causes the vessels and mucous lining in the nose to swell, resulting in a dripping nose, nasal blockage, and all those other uncomfortable symptoms of nasal allergies.
Pressure exuded by the muscles in the body may also be a factor that contributes to non-allergic rhinitis. People with fibromyalgia often have very tight muscles. These muscles can put pressure on the nasal fluid passages, causing them to narrow. This causes nasal obstruction – your sinuses can backup causing post-nasal drip and a cough.
Effects of Non-Allergic Rhinitis on Fibromyalgia Sufferers
Nonallergic rhinitis can really take a toll on people with fibromyalgia. With more than 90% of fibromyalgia sufferers reporting chronic congestion and runny noses, it is important to take this type of rhinitis seriously.
Recent studies have found that non-allergic rhinitis has a definite impact on the sleeping patterns of people with fibromyalgia.
Those who suffer from the symptoms of non-allergic rhinitis are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea, insomnia, and other sleep disorders. These disorders can disrupt daily routines and cause less productivity at work and at school.
Allergy symptoms can also last for extended periods of time, causing chronic rhinitis. This tends to reduce quality of life for many sufferers.
Treating Non-Allergic Rhinitis
Treating the symptoms of non-allergic rhinitis can be very complicated because of the wide variety of triggers that most sufferers have. Usually, treatment of nasal allergies depends upon the trigger that causes that allergy.
Unfortunately, because non-allergic rhinitis has so many triggers, treatment can be extremely difficult.
Certain medications are recommended for use in non-allergenic rhinitis. Intranasal corticosteroids have proven to effectively reduce symptoms in most sufferers.
These are steroid sprays that you simply spray up your nostrils. Topical corticosteroids are also recommended. Daily use of oral antihistamines are not advised for sufferers of non-allergenic rhinitis.
Nasal irrigation is also a good way to get relief from those rhinitis symptoms. Washing out your nose with a salt solution can help to reduce nasal swelling and congestion as well as get rid of excess mucous and nasal crust.
Simply combine some warm water with salt and, either using a syringe or WaterPik, spray the water into your nostrils. This can be done numerous times a day.