What is runny nose?

Runny nose (rhinorrhea) is a common symptom of allergy, infection, inflammation, or even physical irritation. Runny nose results from discharge secreted by the mucous membranes lining the inside of your nose. It may occur in conditions affecting the nose itself or along with more generalized conditions, such a common cold or hay fever.

Nose Problems Spotlight

Inflammation of the nose (rhinitis) is a common cause of runny nose. Other common causes include the common cold (viral respiratory infection), influenza (flu), and sinusitis (inflammation or infection of the sinuses). Inserting objects into your nose can also produce a runny nose. Depending on the cause, runny nose may occur briefly, off and on, or all the time. Your runny nose may be accompanied by redness, itching and sneezing.

Allergic reactions can lead to runny nose, especially in cases of hay fever (allergic rhinitis). In rare cases, runny nose is a symptom of a serious head injury due to trauma to the brain. Overuse of nasal sprays, especially decongestants, is another cause of runny nose.

Runny nose alone is rarely serious; however, it can be a sign of a serious and life-threatening head injury or trauma. If you, or someone you are with, experience clear fluid running out of the nose in the absence of other cold or flu symptoms or as a result of a head injury or trauma, seek immediate medical care (call 911).

If your runny nose is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.


What other symptoms might occur with runny nose?

Runny nose may accompany other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the respiratory system may also involve other body systems.... Read more about runny nosesymptoms


What causes runny nose?

Runny nose results from discharge secreted by the mucous membranes lining the inside of your nose. Allergic reactions are a common cause of runny nose. Such reactions may be caused by pollen (hay fever), animal dander, foods, or medicines.... Read more about runny nosecauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Allergies and the Immune System