5 Underlying Causes of a Runny Nose You May Not Have Considered

You don't need a Kleenex budget.

A runny nose usually means a cold or the flu. If it’s not a viral respiratory infection it could be an environmental irritant. A runny nose could even be an allergic reaction to pollen or sensitivity to chemicals or fumes at work. Even exposure to cigarette smoke can stuff you up and dial your nose to the “drip” setting.


There are, however, a wide range of conditions that share a runny nose as a symptom. When there’s no immediate reason or when your tissue habit won’t ease up, it’s time to visit the runny nose specialists. 


Dr. Alexis Furze and his team can thoroughly investigate your symptoms, and help you find relief from rhinitis (the medical term for a runny nose). It doesn’t matter if the cause of your condition is common or obscure, Dr. Furze is here to help. 


Here are five of the less obvious reasons you may be sniffling.


Pregnant women can experience a condition called pregnancy rhinitis. It impacts between 18 to 42 percent of pregnant women and usually occurs during the first trimester. 


Blood vessels throughout a woman’s body change during pregnancy and blood can pool in the nasal passages. A runny nose can result from the combined effects of estrogen and progesterone. 


Exercise and saline rinses are the safest treatments for the health of your fetus. Other treatments for a runny nose could pose a risk to your child, before birth or while breastfeeding. So clear other treatments with Dr. Furze or your obstetrician first.


It’s not just pregnancy either. Thyroid and growth hormones can also impact tissue in your nasal passages.

Spicy foods

Why spicy foods cause a runny nose is something of a mystery. It’s thought that spiciness stimulates the nervous system, triggering a sympathetic response that turns on the taps, a condition called gustatory rhinitis


If you smoke or if you suffer from allergic rhinitis, it’s more likely you’ll react to spicy foods. While hot, spicy foods are the most obvious culprits, those with gustatory rhinitis could develop a runny nose from virtually any food.

Cold air

Rather than freezing up a runny nose, cold air can actually cause a runny nose. 

Frigid winter air may have a humidity level that seems normal, but as the air warms up when you breathe it in, the percentage moisture content plummets. This now-dry air sucks the moisture out of your nasal membranes and the fluid balance in your airway changes. While this is a common reaction, it’s temporary and the best defense may well be a tissue tucked into your mitten.


A runny nose is also a side effect of several drugs. Each class of drugs causes rhinitis for a different reason, but the net effect could be the same. 

Some of the medications that could start your nose running include drugs used to treat these conditions:


A runny nose from crying isn’t your usual mucus-based rhinitis. When you’re feeling emotional, your eyes overproduce tears in such quantities that normal drainage can’t keep up. Tears may spill over onto your cheeks and your tear ducts work at peak capacity. That runny nose you feel is this backwash of tears spilling down your internal ductwork.


There are many other conditions that can cause runny nose symptoms and the treatment for these can be more than simply avoiding hot peppers or sad movies. 


Simple solution

When it comes to chronic rhinitis, we have a simple solution and effective solution, ClariFix. ClariFix is a clinically-proven, cryotherapy (localized freezing) treatment that uses a cooling probe to freeze a small, inflamed area in the back of the nose. This is a safe, in-office procedure that can provide long-term relief. 

Check-in with Dr. Furze when rhinitis persists or seems unexplained. You can schedule an exam by contacting his office at 949-205-7745. Call today.

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