Do you have seasonal allergies or non allergic rhinitis?

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) Suffering from allergies is common, especially here in East Tennessee, but how do you know if those coughs, sneezes and runny noses are actually caused by allergies? A recent Consumer Reports study showed that nearly one-third of those that are popping pills to combat allergies are actually suffering from non allergic rhinitis.

Symptoms of non allergic rhinitis are very similar to allergies: runny nose, itchy eyes and congestion, except allergies flare up seasonally, while non allergic rhinitis can be year round and triggered by things you wouldn't expect.

"If somebody has symptoms year round, and they say, 'every time I smell strong perfume,' then we tend to think it could be non allergic rhinitis," said allergist Karthik Krishnan.

Poor air quality, second hand smoke, strong perfumes, and even chemicals in the air can bring on non allergic rhinitis, but the most common causes of it are actually infections.

"Whenever you have the cold or flu, sinus infections can cause non allergic rhinitis symptoms, so typically it tends to be an infection, but the other thing that's very common is strong odors, perfume, potpourri," Krishnan said.

The key is to keep track of any lifestyle changes and take an allergy test when you notice symptoms; if it comes out negative, there's a strong chance you have non allergic rhinitis.