Occupational rhinitis

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2003 May;90(5 Suppl 2):2-6. doi: 10.1016/s1081-1206(10)61640-7.


Objective: To define occupational rhinitis, classify its various causes, review the steps in diagnosis, and describe the nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic management principles.

Data sources: A review of MEDLINE articles in English on occupation rhinitis for January 1, 1970, through December 31, 2001, was performed. In addition, references were identified from bibliographies of relevant articles and books.

Study selection: The expert opinion of the author was used to select the relevant articles for the review.

Results: Occupational rhinitis is the episodic, work-related occurrence of sneezing, nasal discharge, and nasal obstruction. It frequently coexists with asthma but may present alone. Occupational rhinitis can be caused by heightened olfactory awareness, nonspecific inflammation of the nose, exposure to a high concentration of irritating and soluble chemical gases, or IgE mechanisms. The history and physical examination are the most important components to the workup of the patient. A site visit to the specific work area may give helpful insights to the patients' exposure. In the case of IgE-mediated allergic occupational rhinitis, skin testing or serologic testing may be useful. Greater objectivity to the diagnosis can be obtained through nasal challenge and the rapidly developing technique of rhinomanometry. Nonpharmacologic management (environmental control) and pharmacotherapy, such as that used in allergic rhinitis, should both be instituted.

Conclusions: Although it does not have the same impact as occupational asthma, occupational rhinitis causes distress, discomfort, and work inefficiency. Attention to principles of management involving nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic measures will spare the patient the symptoms of occupational rhinitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Nose / physiology
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis
  • Occupational Diseases / drug therapy
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Rhinitis / diagnosis
  • Rhinitis / drug therapy
  • Rhinitis / etiology*
  • Rhinomanometry