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Is Runny Nose a Symptom of COVID? Find Out Here

Is Runny Nose a Symptom of COVID? Find Out Here

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted people’s lives in many ways. It has changed the way that people look at things, including their health. Now, things that may have seemed harmless in the past are causes of worry. For example, many are wondering, is a runny nose a symptom of COVID?

What Causes a Runny Nose?

A runny nose is a condition wherein mucus gets discharged from the nose. There are numerous reasons one might have a runny nose, including:

  • Having a cold
  • Flu
  • Allergies that affect the respiratory system
  • Cold temperature
  • Gustatory rhinitis, which is triggered by eating certain foods

Rhinorrhea is the term used for the clear discharge coming out of your nose.

Once a virus or an allergen like pollen gets inside your body, particularly inside your nose, it can irritate the lining there or it can irritate the sinuses. That’s when the nose starts to discharge clear mucus. The purpose of the mucus is to trap the irritants and to help flush them out of the body. After a day or two, the mucus discharge will change color. The mucus may take on a yellow, white, or green color. The change in color is normal and is not an indication of a serious infection.

How Your Nose Offers Protection

Air gets into your body through your nose. The nose helps in filtering and in humidifying the air that enters your body. Depending on the condition, the nose can also help in cooling down or warming up the air that passes through it as well.

The inside of the nose is covered by a special lining of moist tissue. This covering is made up of glands that produce mucus. As bacteria, viruses, allergens, and pollutants get into your noise with the air you breathe, the mucus traps them. The mucus comes with enzymes that can kill bacteria and viruses.

The lining of the inside of your nose has tiny hairs called cilia. The cilia are in constant motion which works to move particles to the back of your throat, where they are swallowed. The particles are then destroyed by the strong acid in your stomach. The mucus which has captured the particles is moved by the cilia as well.

When the weather is cold, the movement of the cilia slows down and the mucus may drip down out of your nose. Given that COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, is a runny nose a symptom of COVID?

Is Runny Nose a Symptom of COVID?

Right now, there is a general concern about COVID and its effects. Many people are thinking about the possible symptoms that they need to look out for.

Is a runny nose a symptom of COVID? While having a runny nose is definitely a symptom of COVID, it’s not the only one. Here are other symptoms that you need to look out for when it comes to COVID:

  • Cough
  • Fever and chills
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Body aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Others

Many of these symptoms are also the same ones you will feel if you have the flu. Older people and those who suffer from lung and heart problems are more prone to developing more serious, and in many cases, life-threatening symptoms.

Should You Seek Medical Attention?

When you have a runny nose, should you seek medical attention immediately?

While it is best to seek medical attention for a sure answer, having a runny nose does not necessarily mean you have COVID, especially if the other COVID symptoms are not present. If your runny nose is combined with other symptoms, consider getting medical help right away.

Here are some of other situations when you should seek medical help:

  • There is a persistent pressure or pain in your chest area
  • You are having a difficult time breathing
  • You have a hard time staying awake
  • Lip discoloration

If you feel any of these symptoms, it is best to seek medical attention immediately.

It is easy to mistake having the flu with COVID infection. These two conditions have almost the same symptoms. While they are both viral infections, the viruses that cause them are very different. Additionally, while flu is transmissible, it seems that COVID can spread even more quickly.

There are other key differences between flu and COVID. For example, it seems that COVID symptoms take longer before manifesting as compared to flu symptoms, and those who contracted it are actually contagious for a longer period.

Key Takeaway

Is a runny nose a symptom of COVID? It can be, but it’s not a sure indication. There are other conditions that can lead to a runny nose. Because of the similarities between the symptoms of flu and COVID, it is not easy distinguishing the two conditions on your own. When in doubt, seek medical attention right away.

Learn more about COVID-19 here.

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


Chronic Rhinorrhea (Runny Nose), https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/service/ear-nose-throat/conditions/chronic-rhinorrhea

Accessed July 25, 2021

Gustatory rhinitis, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20502728/

Accessed July 25, 2021

Covid-19 Dashboard, https://www.covid19.gov.ph/

Accessed July 25, 2021

Diarrhea, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4108-diarrhea

Accessed July 25, 2021

Nausea and vomiting, https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/nausea/basics/causes/sym-20050736

Accessed July 25, 2021


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Written by Ruby Anne Hornillos Updated Apr 20
Medically reviewed by Michael Henry Wanat