What Causes a Runny Nose?

A runny nose, also known as rhinorrhea, is a common symptom that occurs when the nasal tissues produce excessive mucus. Several factors can cause a runny nose:

  • Common cold or flu: Viral infections are the most common cause of a runny nose. When your body detects a virus, it produces more mucus to trap and eliminate the invading pathogens.
  • Allergies: Allergic reactions to pollen, pet dander, dust mites, mold spores, or other environmental triggers can lead to the release of histamines. Histamines cause the blood vessels in the nasal tissues to dilate, leading to increased mucus production and a runny nose.
  • Sinusitis: Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses, usually caused by bacterial infections. It can result in congestion and excessive mucus production, leading to a runny nose.
  • Environmental irritants: Exposure to irritants such as smoke, strong odors, pollution, or chemicals can cause the nasal passages to produce more mucus as a protective response.
  • Weather changes: Some people experience a runny nose during colder months due to the dry air that can irritate the nasal passages.
  • Spicy foods: Eating spicy foods can cause temporary irritation of the nasal passages, leading to a runny nose.
  • Emotional factors: Strong emotions like stress, anxiety, or excitement can stimulate the release of certain chemicals in the body, leading to a runny nose in some individuals.
  • Medications: Certain medications, especially some nasal decongestant sprays, can cause rebound congestion and a runny nose if used for an extended period.

If you have a persistent or severe runny nose that does not improve within a few days or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and treatment. They can help identify the underlying cause and provide appropriate management.