What Is Rhinitis?

Rhinitis is a respiratory condition that affects the sinuses. It can present in two main forms:

  • Allergic rhinitis, commonly referred to as seasonal allergies, is inflammation that occurs on the inside of the nose in response to allergens such as pollen, dust, mold, or dandruff from certain animals.
  • Nonallergic rhinitis involves chronic sneezing and/or congestion, usually with no apparent cause.

Both forms of rhinitis can affect people of all ages, but nonallergic rhinitis is more common in those over the age of twenty. Both forms can occur in response to environmental changes, such as exposure to an allergen in the case of allergic rhinitis or a change in weather for nonallergic rhinitis, but triggers for symptoms vary depending on the affected individual and can be seasonal or last year round. The symptoms for both forms of rhinitis are very similar, and often include the following:

  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Cough 
  • Sneezing
  • Mucus in the throat
  • Itching of the eyes
  • Fatigue

Allergic rhinitis in particular is a common condition among veterans because of the growing list of service members who were exposed to burn pits while in the military. Burn pits, which were commonly used to dispose of trash and other waste in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas of the Southwest Asia theater of military operations, produced large amounts of airborne contaminants. The negative health impacts of burn pits eventually led to many of them being closed out, but service members who were exposed to them for prolonged periods of time have developed numerous health conditions, including forms of rhinitis. Among members of the VA burn pit registry, over 39 percent said they had been diagnosed with allergic rhinitis since the end of their service. The common occurrence of this condition among veterans is also why it was the second most common respiratory condition claimed for VA disability benefits as of 2019.

How The VA Rates Rhinitis

Under 38 CFR § 4.97, the VA rates several different forms of rhinitis as follows:

Diagnostic code 6522: Allergic or vasomotor rhinitis

  • 30 – With polyps
  • 10 – Without polyps, but with greater than 50-percent obstruction of nasal passage on both sides or complete obstruction on one side

Diagnostic code 6523: Bacterial rhinitis

  • 50 – Rhinoscleroma
  • 10 – With permanent hypertrophy of turbinates and with greater than 50-percent obstruction of nasal passage on both sides or complete obstruction on one side

Diagnostic code 6524: Granulomatous rhinitis

  • 100 – Wegener’s granulomatosis, lethal midline granuloma
  • 20 – Other types of granulomatous infection

For definition purposes: 

  • A polyp is an abnormal tissue growth on a mucous membrane.
  • A rhinoscleroma is a chronic granulomatous disease caused by infection of the bacteria Klebsiella rhinoscleromatis.
  • A granuloma is a small area of inflammation that often develops in response to foreign invaders such as bacteria or fungi.

Get Help With Your Rhinitis Claim

If you or someone you know is a veteran with rhinitis who would like help with his or her VA disability claim, please contact our office today.