Atrophic Rhinitis: Reasons for Septicemia and Treatment Options

Question: Is there any reason for septicemia in the condition of atrophic rhinitis?

Answer: Thank you for your question.  Atrophic rhinitis, also known as ozena, is a condition in which the nasal cavity loses its ability to serve as a filter due to chronic inflammation of the nose.  While atrophic rhinitis is a chronic nasal condition that has an unknown cause, it causes the formation of thick dry crusts in a normally roomy nasal cavity.  This is a result of a decrease in size (atrophy) of the nasal mucous lining and the underlying bone. However, while this condition is characterized by the atrophy of the nasal mucosa, it also includes the turbinate bones, the glands, as well as the nerve elements that supply the nose. Normally, the air we breathe in should reach 98.6 degrees F and 100 percent humidity by the time it reaches the back of the nose.

The common symptoms associated with atrophic rhinitis include a runny nose, a stuffy nose, nosebleeds, nasal crusting, nasal deformity, a sore throat, a decreased or loss of smell, as well as frequent upper respiratory infections.

Aggressive surgery, or chronic infection, can cause scarring and the loss of the function of the nose.  It can result in crusting, stuffiness, a bad odor and increased risk of infection.  Septicemia (a blood-borne infection), while possible, would be quite rare.

Treatment for atrophic rhinitis includes humidification, treatment with ointments and irrigations with a Netti pot or nasal flush. Using nasal irrigation is usually the first line of defense, as this treatment option can help improve tissue hydration and can help reduce crusting in the nose. However, it is important that you irrigate your nose several times a day, and the irrigation solution that you use could be a saline solution, a mixture of other salts, or even an antibiotic solution.

I hope this helps clear things up.

Robert Pincus MD

Co-Director NY Sinus Center