Runny Nose

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"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.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/27/2012

Health concern on your mind? Visit the Symptom Checker.

REFERENCE:

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
  • Medications
  • 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




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