Diagnosing non-allergic rhinitis 

You should see your GP if you have symptoms of non-allergic rhinitis and the condition is affecting your quality of life.

Your GP will first ask about your symptoms. Certain symptoms, such as a cough or muscular aches and pains, would suggest that your rhinitis is caused by a viral infection.

Your GP may also ask about your medical history, as rhinitis can sometimes occur as a side effect of certain medications.

Allergy tests

If your symptoms and medical history don't suggest an obvious cause, you may need to have further tests to check if your symptoms could be caused by an allergy. This is because the symptoms of allergic rhinitis can be very similar to those of non-allergic rhinitis.

Your GP may carry out a blood test to check if you have an allergy, or they may refer you to a hospital allergy clinic for more specific tests.

One of the main tests you may have at an allergy clinic is a "skin prick test". This is where your skin is pricked with a tiny amount of a suspected allergen to see if it reacts by becoming red, raised and itchy.

If the test results suggest you don't have an allergy, you may be diagnosed with non-allergic rhinitis.

Read more about allergy tests.

Further tests

In some cases, it may be necessary to have further tests in hospital to help diagnose non-allergic rhinitis and check for any complications, such as nasal polyps or sinusitis.

Specifically, examination with an endoscope is usually necessary. This is a thin tube with a light source and video camera at one end, which is inserted up your nose and gives an excellent view of the internal part of the nose.

Other tests may include:

  • a nasal inspiratory flow test – where a small device is placed over your mouth and nose, and measures the air flow when you inhale through your nose
  • computerised tomography (CT) scan – a type of scan that uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of the body

CT scans are regularly used before nasal surgery to help plan treatment.


Page last reviewed: 29/03/2016

Next review due: 31/10/2018