Home Symptoms 10 Possible Causes of Runny Nose

10 Possible Causes of Runny Nose

Runny nose, also known as rhinitis occurs when there is excess production and dripping of mucus from the nose. It can be caused by a number of things ranging from allergies, infection and irritation of the nasal mucosal. A runny nose causes a lot of discomfort and can disrupt productivity in daily activities.

This article highlights ten possible causes of runny nose and how they may present.

Runny Nose

Causes of Runny Nose

1. Allergies

This is the most cause of a runny nose. It occurs when there is an exposure of the immune system to foreign substances (allergens) causing a reaction. Symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis include itchy eyes and nose, watery and swollen eyes, sneezing, and stuffy nose.

2. Common Cold

This can present with sneezing, a blocked or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, and body ache. It is caused by viruses, most commonly the rhinovirus. The common cold resolves on its own most times and requires no treatment.

3. Sinusitis

This occurs when there is an infection of the tissue lining the sinuses (hollow, air-filled spaces in the skull). This presents with symptoms similar to the common cold. It can be acute or chronic.

4. Nasal Polyps

These are painless and benign outgrowths of the tissue lining the nasal mucosal. They cause irritation of the nasal mucosal leading to the excessive production of mucus.

5. Asthma

Asthma occurs as an allergic response to triggers or irritants in the environment. In addition to a runny nose, asthmatics present with wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.

6. Non-allergic Rhinitis

This is rhinitis caused by irritants such as smoke, smog, dust, strong odors like perfumes, and even spicy food.

7. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

This is a very common viral infection in children and infants. It can also affect individuals of all age groups. The symptoms include fever, malaise, nasal congestion, cough, wheezing, and difficulty in breathing.

8. Foreign Body

The presence of foreign material in the nostrils can irritate the mucosal and lead to a runny nose. This is very common in children. They can present with pain, red nose, bleeding from the nose, runny nose, and difficulty in breathing.

9. Medications

Drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, antidepressants, and anti-hypertensives are common examples of drugs that can trigger a runny nose. The excessive use of nasal sprays for over five consecutive days can cause chronic sinusitis and trigger a runny nose.

10. Hormonal Changes

Puberty and pregnancy are periods of hormonal changes that can also present with a running nose.  This is a result of hormonal imbalances that occur leading to an enlargement of nasal blood vessels. The use of hormone replacement therapy and contraceptive pills can also present with similar symptoms.


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