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Runny Nose: The Possible Causes and Conditions

Medically reviewed by Martha Juco, MD · Aesthetics

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Jul 25, 2022

    Runny Nose: The Possible Causes and Conditions

    It’s that time of the year again when heavy downpour may also mean a runny nose day in and day out. But there are many causes and conditions that may lead to one having a runny nose. Learn more about them here. 

    People may have different names and labels to it like a stuffy or congested nose, but a runny nose refers to the extra fluid that drains from the nose. The fluid or the mucus may present itself with different viscosities depending on the root cause of the drainage. It may be thin or thick, clear or opaque, and occasional or sometimes in a continuous flow. This running down may then lead to cough and sore throats. 

    Children commonly experience repeated runny noses, chronic colds, and a green nasal discharge, which causes them some discomfort. 

    Chronic Rhinorrhea vs. Rhinitis

    Doctors and other medical practitioners also use other terms for a runny nose to address this case. “Chronic rhinorrhea” is the term used side by side when referring to a runny nose. It involves the dripping down of mucus that is mostly thin and clear in color.

    Rhinitis, on the other hand, is the inflammation of the nasal tissues that often result in a runny nose when taken too long. When swollen, it is possible that the discharge will come out of your nose, through the back of your throat, or both.

    Causes of Runny Nose

    The nose is a sensitive sense organ that can be easily irritated. A runny nose usually stems from a wide array of possible causes, but the most common ones that occur for both children and adults are explained below.

    Cold weather

    As mentioned earlier, the weather can be one of the most common triggers of a runny nose. The unexpected quick change may bring a person to feel a little under the weather. 

    Common colds and flu

    For most children, runny noses may be accompanied by a start of a mild illness such as the common colds experienced by many. However, when not treated early, it may reflect other symptoms and complications like coughing, sneezing, headache, sore throat, watery eyes, and fatigue.

    Bacterial infections (sinus infections or adenoids)

    Sinusitis occurs when the cavities of the face that drain into the nose become clogged with infected mucus. Meanwhile, children’s adenoids, which are located in the back of the nose, can also get infected.

    Other known causes are also listed for your reference:

    • Allergic/ Non-allergic rhinitis
    • Crying
    • Overuse of decongestant nasal sprays
    • Deviated nasal septum
    • Hormonal changes
    • Side effects and contraindications of some medicines
    • Nasal polyps
    • Occupational asthma
    • Pregnancy
    • Swollen turbinates
    • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
    • Tobacco smoking
    • Foreign body insertion
    • Nasal cysts or tumors
    • Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

    When to See Your Doctor About It

    A runny nose can be irritating and inconvenient, but it usually goes away on its own. However, if symptoms persist for more than 10 days and you are already experiencing fevers, you are already advised to see your doctor about your concern before it leads up to anything more troublesome such as Coronavirus disease. 

    Also, do take note that a runny nose may cause a serious problem for babies, too. So, contact your pediatrician should you notice some signs and symptoms coming along. 

    Medications and Treatments

    Your doctor may prescribe you some medications that you may reach for such as: 

    • Decongestants: Decongestants help to ease up the feeling by drying up your stuffy or congested nose. Some decongestant drugs can be bought over-the-counter, but you should still consult your doctor before buying or taking them. Taking decongestants for too long may cause rebound congestion or rhinitis medicamentosa.
    • Antihistamines: These drugs are often directed to help treat some allergic reactions and symptoms. Some antihistamines may be drowsy so make sure to read the labels. 
    • Nasal sprays: These sprays come in a bottle that you can use to alleviate the stuffy and runny feeling. 

    Key Takeaway

    Your runny nose may be susceptible to a lot of irritants and allergens. Whether it be because of the weather, a cold, or a viral or bacterial infection, it is important to hydrate yourself frequently to prevent it from causing more complications to rise. 

    Learn more about General Symptoms here



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

    Medically reviewed by

    Martha Juco, MD


    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Jul 25, 2022

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