The general symptoms of rhinitis are congestion, runny nose, and postnasal drip, in which mucus drips into the throat from the back of the nasal passage, especially when lying on the back. Symptoms may vary depending on the cause of rhinitis. Symptoms of influenza and sinusitis must also be differentiated from allergies and colds.
Symptoms of allergic rhinitis occur in two phases, early and late.
Early Phase Symptoms. The early phase occurs within minutes of exposure to the allergens and includes:
- Runny nose
- Frequent or repetitive sneezing
- Watery or itchy eyes
- Itching in the nose, throat, or roof of the mouth
Late-Phase Symptoms. The late phase occurs 4 - 8 hours later and may include one or more of these symptoms:
- Nasal congestion and possibly plugged ears. Children may push their nose upward with the palm of their hand or twitch their nose rabbit-like to clear the obstruction.
- Mental changes can include irritability, a slight decrease in attention span, worsened memory, and slower thinking.
- Other common physical symptoms include a decreased sense of smell or taste, plugged ears, sinus headache, postnasal drip or some combination. In severe allergies, dark circles may develop under the eye. The lower eyelid may be puffy and lined with creases.
Review Date: 05/03/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.