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Rhinorrhea: Wikis


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Classification and external resources
ICD-9 478.19
DiseasesDB 26380
MedlinePlus 003051

Rhinorrhea, commonly referred to as runny nose, consists of an unusually significant amount of nasal fluid. It is a symptom of the common cold and of allergies (hay fever). The term is a combination of the Greek words "rhinos" meaning "of the nose" and "-rrhea" meaning 'discharge or flow'. Rhinorrhea can also be a sign of withdrawal, such as from opioids (especially methadone).[1] Symptoms display circadian rhythms.[2]



Rhinorrhea is a frequently encountered condition that is usually not dangerous. The discharge may be coloured or thick as a result of conditions such as sinusitis. It may be accompanied by post-nasal drip that may also aggravate coughing or result in a sore throat. Other secondary consequences include ear infections or sinusitis, especially if increased mucus levels block the Eustachian tube or the sinus passages.[3]


Rhinorrhea may be due to allergic conditions such as hay fever or foreign materials within the nostril. Bacterial or viral infections such as the common cold, influenza or sinusitis may also be accompanied by a runny nose. Nasal discharges may also be present in cases of vasomotor rhinitis, a non-infectious and non-allergenic condition.

Head injuries[3] may also cause excess nasal discharges. Basilar skull fracture may result in cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea.[4]

Environmental causes include contact with strong smelling substances such as disulfide compounds found in onions and garlic, both of the genus Allium. CS gas, which provides an especially intense pepper-like odour, also results in this symptom. This phenomenon is caused by the same mechanism that causes a runny nose when crying: tears drain through the inner corner of the eyelids through the nasolacrimal duct, and finally into the nasal cavity, where they manifest as a runny nose. Spicy food can also be to blame, as well as exposure to cold air, both of which can cause tearing.


Medicinal treatment includes antihistamines (e.g., diphenhydramine or loratadine) to reduce the amount of nasal discharge and saline nasal sprays. Vasoconstrictor nasal sprays may also be applied for a limited time, but their use may become counterproductive after several days, causing Rhinitis medicamentosa.

The ancient use of nasal irrigation, which originated from the Yoga practice of jala neti, is also said to help reduce nasal congestions. It involves rinsing the nasal cavity regularly with salty water, or preferably hospital grade saline. This remedy may cause further irritation.

See also

External links


  1. ^ Eileen Trigoboff; Kneisl, Carol Ren; Wilson, Holly Skodol (2004). Contemporary psychiatric-mental health nursing. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson/Prentice Hall. p. 274. ISBN 0-13-041582-0.  
  2. ^ Smolensky MH, Reinberg A, Labrecque G (1995). "Twenty-four hour pattern in symptom intensity of viral and allergic rhinitis: treatment implications". J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 95 (5 Pt 2): 1084–96. doi:10.1016/S0091-6749(95)70212-1. PMID 7751526.  
  3. ^ a b "Nasal discharge". Medline Plus. US NLM/NIH. Retrieved 2007-11-01.  
  4. ^ Greenberg, Jayson (3 December 1998). "Cerebrospinal Fluid Rhinorrhea". Baylor College of Medicine. Retrieved 2007-11-01.  

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