Runny Nose

What Makes Someone Have a Runny Nose

There are many people who suffer from a runny nose throughout the year. Apart from being a source of severe discomfort and distress, it could also lead to inflammation, irritation and swelling of the inner lining of the nasal passages and sinuses. It’s very common during certain seasons, when the air is full of pollutants, pollen, dust etc and it’s a condition that’s found frequently in people over 70 and in very young children. Though it doesn’t essentially pose a health issue by itself, it can lead to nasal polyps, rhinitis, skin problems, crusting round the nose and eyes, blocked airways etc. Hence it is important to identify the cause of what makes someone have a runny nose.

Common Causes of Runny Nose

Doctors usually put 90% of causes down to some kind of allergic reaction to substances like pollen, pets, dust, exposure to chemicals etc. However, there are a host of other conditions that cause runny noses.

They include:

  • Sudden shift in temperature
  • Spicy/pungent food
  • Hormonal changes
  • Environmental pollutants
  • Adenoids
  • Infections
  • Injury
  • Deviated Septum or other structural deformity
  • Nasal Polyps
  • Tumors
  • Sinus infection/inflammation
  • Allergens
  • Foreign body in the nose
  • Vasomotor rhinitis
  • Adenovirus (cold virus) infections
  • Allergy to medication

Apart from these broad categories, runny nose can be caused by certain life-style habits like smoking, taking drugs, using tobacco products, etc. Among teenagers who use drugs like opiates, marijuana, stimulants etc, runny nose can be a sign of addiction.

Runny Nose As a Symptom

Constant nasal discharge could be a symptom of a deeper underlying pathology. It may be the initial marker for diseases like:

  • Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
  • Swine Flu (H1N1)
  • Roseola
  • Respiratory Syncitial Virus
  • Measles
  • Asthma
  • Wegener’s Granulomatosis
  • Flu
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Kartagener Syndrome

Hence the doctor may recommend further tests. If you have recently suffered a head-injury or trauma, a runny nose could indicate a serious problem, hence it’s important to discuss all your symptoms, their history and chronology with your doctor. In rare cases, runny nose can be caused by pregnancy and stress.


In general, unless there is a serious underlying problem, runny noses tend to clear up on their own in a week with or without medication. Over-the-counter medications can be taken for relieving the discomfort. Prescription drugs given by doctors include:

Nasal Spray Image

• Antihistamines (oral) (sprays)

• Nasal sprays

• Cough suppressants

• Acetaminophen

• Non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

• Decongestants


Home Remedies

There are several effective home-remedies to relieve and prevent runny nose.

  • Steam inhalation
  • Saline irrigation
  • Mustard Oil: in steam-inhalation or a few warmed drops in each nostril
  • Turmeric in warm milk or mixed with linseed oil, heated and inhaled
  • Ginger and Garlic: crushed and eaten raw or inhaled, lozenges
  • Drink honey mixed with warm lemon-juice
  • Apple-cider vinegar inhalation/drink mixed with warm water
  • Chamomile tea


  • Blow instead of blocking the nose
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Stay warm
  • Avoid known allergens
  • Use tissues to avoid spreading infection


There may be several reasons for what makes someone have a runny nose. Once the real reason or combinations of reasons have been identified, it should be tackled in the right way to prevent further recurrence.