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Rhinitis: Care Instructions


Rhinitis is swelling and irritation in the nose. Allergies and infections are often the cause. Your nose may run or feel stuffy. Other symptoms are itchy and sore eyes, ears, throat, and mouth.

If allergies are the cause, your doctor may do tests to find out what you are allergic to. You may be able to stop symptoms if you avoid the things that cause them. Your doctor may suggest or prescribe medicine to ease your symptoms.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If your rhinitis is caused by allergies, try to find out what sets off (triggers) your symptoms. Take steps to avoid your triggers.
    • Avoid yard work. It can stir up both pollen and mould.
    • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around you. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
    • Do not use aerosol sprays, cleaning products, or perfumes.
    • If pollen is one of your triggers, close your house and car windows during blooming season.
    • Clean your house often to control dust.
    • Keep pets outside.
  • If your doctor recommends over-the-counter medicines to relieve symptoms, take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Use saline (saltwater) nasal washes to help keep your nasal passages open and wash out mucus and allergens. You can buy saline nose sprays at a grocery store or drugstore. Or you can make your own at home by adding 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of non-iodized salt and 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of baking soda to 2 cups (500 millilitres) of distilled or boiled and cooled water. If you make your own, fill a squeeze bottle or neti pot with the solution, insert the tip into your nostril, and lean over the sink. Gently squirt the solution with your mouth open and repeat on the other side.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are having trouble breathing.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Mucus from your nose gets thicker (like pus) or has new blood in it.
  • You have new or worse symptoms.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.