What Are the Causes of Atrophic Rhinitis?

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Atrophic rhinitis is a disease of the nose in which there is atrophy or thinning of the mucosa of the nose. This results in wide nasal passages and results in nose block, crusting in the nose and loss of smell. This disease is commonly seen in developing countries; young girls and women are more affected. Multiple factors have been implicated in the etiology.


Atrophic rhinitis runs in families. If your father or mother is affected, there's a likelihood of you getting it. A genetic association has been strongly suggested to cause this condition. Asians, Latinos and African-Americans are commonly affected.

Hormonal Factors

Hormonal factors may also play a role. Atrophic rhinitis, seen more in females, tends to start in adolescent girls. It worsens during pregnancy and with menopause, according to UTMB Department of Otolaryngology reports.

Nutritional Deficits

Atrophic rhinitis is seen commonly in poor and malnourished people. If you have vitamin A, vitamin D and iron deficiency, you can get atrophic rhinitis. Vitamins and iron supplements are often given as a treatment.


Prolonged infections with certain bacteria such as Klebsiella ozaena, Proteus vulgaris and E.coli can cause atrophic rhinitis. These bacteria have been seen in the nose of those with this condition. Topical antibiotics to be applied in the nose are given. Long-term Infections of sinuses called sinusitis can gradually cause atrophic rhinitis. Infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, leprosy and syphilis also can cause wasting and destruction of the nasal structures, leading to atrophic rhinitis.


Trauma to the nose can thin the mucous membranes and glands of the nose. Sinus surgery in which a lot of nasal structures and mucous membrane are removed can cause nasal atrophy. In addition, surgery of the bone in the nasal passages called turbinate can result in atrophic rhinitis. This happens when an excess of mucous membrane of the turbinate is removed. Radiation treatment to the nose and sinuses can cause a progressive atrophy of the nose.