ZocdocAnswersIs rhinitis the same thing as a cold?

Question

Is rhinitis the same thing as a cold?

I went to an ENT because I am always stuffed up. He said that I have rhinitis. Is this the same thing as a cold? Is it just a chronic cold?

Answer

Rhinitis is a medical/scientific term to describe a multitude of conditions, including a common cold. If you break down the word to the most literal sense, it means inflammation of the nose. Viral rhinitis is usually synonymous with the common cold and is usually caused by a rhinovirus. Rhinitis can be acute, or chronic. Most people get a transient cold which is also known as acute rhinitis. It is possible to have chronic rhinitis although this is not usually caused by a virus like a typical cold. It is also important to realized that there are many reasons to have rhinitis. For example, a runny or stuffy nose during allergy season, or around pollen/known allergens is likely allergic rhinitis. These can be more chronic in nature. Clearly, this would not have anything to do with "catching the cold." It is important to consult your primary care doctor or ENT to discuss causes, triggers and treatment and management options for your problem. It sounds like you've already taken the appropriate step in seeing an ENT doctor. He or she should have given you some guidance in terms of treatment. If the plan has not been successful in alleviating your symptoms, you should follow up with your doctor to see if there are other treatment options.

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