The medical term used for runny nose is rhinorrhea. This condition arises when the tissues and the blood vessels present inside the nasal cavity produce excess amount of mucous or a fluid like substance and it runs down the nostrils. The secretions also drain out at the back of the throat and is referred to as post nasal drip. We all get runny nose occasionally when we are suffering from cold and flu. However, there are some people who continue to have it for several weeks or months. This condition is known as chronic runny nose. It is quite common among small children but that does not mean adults do not suffer from this problem.
In normal condition, the mucous is produced in the nasal passage to keep its lining lubricated so that dust, germ or other irritants can be prevented from entering the body. Mucus production increases in nasal passage when some irritants or allergens cause irritation in the nasal passage. It is an attempt made by the body to eliminate the unwanted foreign substances.
Chronic sinusitis is one of the main reasons behind runny nose. In this condition, inflammation occurs in the sinus cavities present on the sinus lining and the mucus drainage gets affected. Deviated septum often causes chronic sinusitis by obstructing sinus drainage. The nasal septum inside the nostrils should be located at the center of the nose. In many people, it is not at the center and is deviated so much on one side that it blocks one side of the nasal cavity. As a result, the mucous produced cannot be drained out properly and causes runny nose and nasal congestion.
Nasal polyp is another cause of sinusitis. Nasal polyps can be identified as abnormal growth of non cancerous tissues in the nasal cavity. As the size of the polyps increases, normal drainage of mucous gets disrupted. This causes sinus inflammation, pain and chronic nasal congestion.
Those who have allergic rhinitis are sensitive towards various types of allergens like dust, pollen, mold, dust mites, pet dander, foods, etc. As a result, they suffer from chronic runny nose. Some rhinitis patients get it only during spring season and others may have it throughout the year. Those who are exposed to dust, smoke or harmful chemicals on a regular basis at their workplace also tend to get allergy induced runny nose.
When you are troubled by a runny nose for more than four weeks, you must visit a doctor for proper diagnosis of the problem. They carry out a physical examination of the nasal passage to check if you have the problem of septum deviation or growth of nasal polyps. They may also conduct allergy test to identify the trigger that causes it.
Oral decongestants and nasal sprays are widely used medicines for clearing up the nasal passage. For a severe sinus inflammation and chronic runny nose, corticosteroid sprays are prescribed. It brings down the inflammation of the nasal lining and clears up the passage within a short span of time. However, these medicines prove to be a temporary solution and they cannot be used for more than 3 days as they have adverse side effects. Alternatively, you can use saline nasal spray which is comparatively a safer option. It consists of salt and sterile water that thins up the mucus and facilitates its easier drainage. It can also wash off any irritants stuck in the nasal passage.
You can also use home remedies to clear up nasal congestion. Steam inhalation from a bowl of boiling water for a few minutes, helps a lot to obtain relief from runny nose. Nasal irrigation is another excellent solution to this chronic problem. Prepare a saline solution by adding half teaspoon of salt in a cup of lukewarm water. Take this solution in a neti pot and pour it slowly into the nostril. When it drains out in the mouth, spit it out.
Antihistamine medicines are highly effective for treating allergic reactions. It is also advisable to strictly avoid the source of allergen. If you have plants inside your house, you must move them outdoors. Use air purifier to keep the indoor air free from air borne irritants. Bathe your pet on a regular basis to minimize the chances of pet dander exposure. Avoid exposure to pollen during spring time. If you have food allergies, you should not consume that particular food which triggers the reaction.
If the runny nose caused by deviated septum or nasal polyp cannot be cured with the help of medicines, then the surgical option is availed. The procedure used for correction of deviated septum is known as septoplasty. Here, the septum is positioned at the center of the nose by surgical means. The technique used for removal of nasal polyp is called polypectomy where the soft tissues of polyps are cut with the help of surgical instruments and then extracted. Sometimes, endoscopy surgery is conducted on those patients who get nasal polyps recurrently. In this procedure, the polyps are removed and at the same time the sinus problem is corrected in order to prevent any further polyp development.
When you are suffering from chronic runny nose, you feel the need to blow the nose frequently to get some relief. However, make sure you do not blow the nose too hard as it can make the nostrils sore and tender. If your child is suffering from it, teach him or her to blow the nose gently into a disposable tissue.