Runny Nose

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Definition

What is runny nose?

Runny nose is excess drainage produced by nasal and adjacent tissues and blood vessels in the nose. This drainage may range from a clear fluid to thick mucus. Runny nose drainage may run out of your nose, down the back of your throat or both.

The terms “rhinorrhea” and “rhinitis” are often used to refer to a runny nose. Strictly speaking though, rhinorrhea refers to a thin, relatively clear nasal discharge. Rhinitis refers to inflammation of the nasal tissues from a number of causes, which usually results in a runny nose.

Nasal congestion may or may not accompany runny nose.

How common is runny nose?

Runny nose is extremely common. It can occur in patients in any gender at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Which signs and symptoms can runny nose usually be associated with?

Related signs and symptoms include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

Causes

What causes runny nose?

Causes of runny nose can include:

  • Acute sinusitis (sinus infection)
  • Allergies
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Churg-Strauss syndrome
  • Common cold
  • Decongestant nasal spray overuse
  • Deviated septum
  • Drug addiction (substance use disorder)
  • Dry air
  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener’s)
  • Hormonal changes
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Lodged object
  • Medications
  • Nasal polyps
  • Nonallergic rhinitis (chronic congestion or sneezing not related to allergies)
  • Occupational asthma
  • Pregnancy
  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  • Spinal fluid leak
  • Tobacco smoke

In general, runny nose can be caused by anything that irritates or inflames the nasal tissues. Infections — such as the common cold and influenza — allergies and various irritants may all cause a runny nose. Some people have a chronically runny nose for no apparent reason — a condition called nonallergic rhinitis or vasomotor rhinitis (VMR).

Less commonly, runny nose can be caused by polyps, a foreign body, a tumor or migraine-like headaches.

The conditions mentioned above are some common causes of runny nose. Consult with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for runny nose?

You are more likely to experience runny nose if you have any of the conditions mentioned above.

Please consult with your doctor for further information.

When to see your doctor

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you or your loved one has any of the following:

  • Symptoms that last for more than 10 days
  • High fever
  • Yellow or green nasal discharge, accompanied by sinus pain or fever
  • Bloody nasal discharge or persistent nasal discharge after head injury

In case of young babies, call your doctor if:

  • Your child is younger than 2 months and is running a fever.
  • Your baby’s runny nose or congestion causes trouble nursing or makes breathing difficult.

On noticing one of these symptoms or having any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor to get the best solutions for your situation.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage runny nose?

These following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with runny nose:

  • Sniffing and swallowing or gently blowing your nose.
  • Avoid known allergic triggers.
  • If the runny nose is a persistent, watery discharge, particularly if accompanied by sneezing and itchy or watery eyes, your symptoms may be allergy-related and an over-the-counter antihistamine may help. Be sure to follow the label instructions exactly.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid beverages that dehydrate rather than hydrate. This includes drinks like coffee and alcoholic beverages.
  • Make a cup of hot herbal tea (preferably non-caffeinated) and inhale the steam before drinking.
  • Inhaling hot steam has been shown to help treat a runny nose. If desired, add a few drops of decongestant essential oils to your facial steam water.
  • For babies and small children, use a soft rubber suction bulb to gently remove any secretions.

Try these measures to relieve postnasal drip — when excess mucus accumulates in the back of your throat:

  • Avoid common irritants such as cigarette smoke and sudden humidity changes.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Try nasal saline sprays or rinses.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor for the best solutions.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: January 15, 2019 | Last Modified: January 15, 2019

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