Occupational Rhinitis: Classification, Diagnosis, and Therapeutics

  • Zhisheng Shao
  • Jonathan A. BernsteinEmail author
Occupational Allergies (JA Poole, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Occupational Allergies


Purpose of Review

Occupational rhinitis (OR), an inflammatory disease of the nose, refers to any nasal symptoms reported to be work-related. The purpose of this review is to provide a current overview of the classification, diagnosis, and treatment of OR.

Recent Findings

Occupational rhinitis (OR) can further be classified into allergic or non-allergic depending on the causative agent(s) and pathogenesis. Presenting symptoms are similar to non-OR including nasal congestion, anterior and posterior rhinorrhea, sneezing, and nasal itching. Despite its high prevalence in a spectrum of workplaces, OR is under reported as it is often considered a nuisance rather than a potential precursor to occupational asthma (OA). The diagnosis of OR is obfuscated as it is difficult to determine if this condition was caused by environmental determinants in or outside the workplace. Furthermore, workers may have a pre-existing history of allergic or non-allergic rhinitis leading the clinician and worker to overlook inciting agents in the workplace. In this case, a diagnosis of OR is still possible depending on the exposures but must be differentiated from work-exacerbated rhinitis. Further complicating the diagnosis of OR is the lack of evidence-based research focused on this condition as it is often trivialized due to the perception that it has an insignificant impact on the worker’s health. The reality is that OR can have a significant impact on the worker’s quality of life and is associated with a number of comorbidities including occupational asthma, recurrent sinusitis, headaches, eustachian tube dysfunction, and sleep disorders similar to non-occupational rhinitis. However, one significant difference between these disorders is that workers diagnosed with OR are eligible for worker’s compensation. Treatment of OR involves avoidance of the inciting agent(s) and medications similar to those used to treat non-OR conditions.


This review summarizes recent progresses on the etiology, risk factors, diagnosis, and therapy of OR. In addition, suggested areas of further research with potential targets for modifications in the workplace environment as well as therapeutic interventions will be discussed.


Occupational rhinitis Workplace rhinitis IgE Rhinitis Inflammatory disease 



Occupational rhinitis


Occupational asthma


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest relevant to this manuscript.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Podiatric MedicineTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Bernstein Allergy GroupCincinnatiUSA
  3. 3.Division of Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology, Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

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