Symptom Checker: Symptoms & Signs Index
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
"Stuffy nose" is a term often used to refer to obstruction to the flow of air in and out of the nose, while "runny nose" refers to a discharge (fluid) coming from the nasal passages. Both of these conditions are associated with inflammation and swelling (congestion) of the inner lining of the nasal passages and sinuses. A viral infection (the common cold) is the most common cause of a stuffy and/or runny nose, but allergies, influenza, and sinus infections also may cause these symptoms.
Less commonly, anatomical obstructions (e.g. a deviated nasal septum, foreign bodies) may lead to nasal congestion. Other causes of a stuffy or runny nose include environmental factors, hormonal changes, and some medications. Rarely, tumors of the nasal passages or chronic medical conditions may be the cause of a stuffy or runny nose.
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Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.
Causes of Runny Nose
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Other Causes of Runny Nose
- Cold Weather or Sudden Temperature Changes
- Consumption of Spicy Foods
- Enlarged Adenoids
- Environmental Irritants
- Foreign Bodies in the Nose
- Hormonal Changes
- Injury/Trauma to the Nose
- Kartagener Syndrome
- Nasal Polyps
- Structural Abnormalities
- Tumors of the Nasal Passages
- Vasomotor Rhinitis
- Viral Infection
Examples of Medications for Runny Nose
- cetirizine, Zyrtec, Zyrtec Allergy, Zyrtec Hives
- chlorpheniramine, pseudoephedrine, Deconamine (Discontinued)
- diphenhydramine, Benadryl
- fexofenadine and pseudoephedrine, Allegra-D
- fexofenadine, Allegra, Allegra Allergy, Allegra Hives, Children's Allegra
- loratadine and pseudoephedrine, Claritin-D
- loratadine, Claritin, Claritin RediTabs, Alavert, others
- pseudoephedrine - oral, Afrinol, Sudafed
- pseudoephedrine/cetirizine extended-release - oral, Zyrtec-D
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