The medical term for runny nose is Rhinorrhea. It is characterized by a discharge of an unusually large amount of nasal fluid, i.e. mucus or sinus and the discharge may be colored or thick. A runny nose is one of the major symptoms of common cold and hay fever. But a runny nose while eating is a little different from the usual Rhinorrhea. This condition is called Gustatory Rhinorrhea. While eating, the autonomic nervous system gets stimulated. As a result, a compound called acetylcholine gets released. This leads to increased production of saliva, gastric acids and nasal mucus. Usually, if the meal is spicy, your nose is likely to run. But here, even non-spicy food can trigger this problem. However, there is no need to become anxious, since a runny nose when eating is not a serious issue and can be treated easily.
Causes of Runny Nose While Eating
One of the causes is scar tissue. In such a case, there is excessive mucus secretion from the nose. The constant drip from your nose while eating can be due to the excessive amount of mucus or sinus produced and this is not because of inflammation due to an allergy or infection. If you ever had a broken nose or a surgery like rhinoplasty, you will be surprised to know that scar tissues may occur due to these.
This problem may be aggravated by the taste or smell of food too. But these may not be the only factors. If you are exposed to odors such as perfumes, scented candles, paint fumes, smoke, diesel exhaust, etc. there are chances that you may suffer from a runny nose. Other factors can also include hormonal changes, especially during menstruation, changes in the air temperature, like when you are exposed to air conditioning, humidity, emotional stress and certain common medications.
- Consult a doctor in case you are having a runny nose after eating and have your nose checked by him/her. Your doctor will conduct tests by taking a swab of your nose, in case there is an allergy. This will also help you find out if a scar tissue is the reason behind your running nose.
- You can also use a nasal spray or antihistamines before you start eating, of course on a doctor's prescription. But antihistamines have side effects too, which includes drowsiness and may affect people in different ways. So before you start to take antihistamines as medication, experiment with a few brands to see which one suits you best. But be careful. Antihistamine pills and nasal sprays should neither be taken at the same time and nor be continued for a long time. Take these medications only when you are going out for social occasions, e.g. when you have to eat surrounded by people.
- Another thing you can do is to keep a packet of tissues handy when you are eating socially. Lightly touch your nose whenever you feel that your nose is going to drip.
- Try to avoid hot and spicy food, especially Mexican or Thai, and keep away from caffeinated beverages when you are dining out as your problem can become worse.
- Performing acupressure massage on the face is said to cure this problem considerably. You can start applying pressure on your nostrils, followed by the nasal area close to your tear ducts. It is recommended that, one should breathe in and out several times after the acupressure.
So these were some of the common causes and treatment of this problem. Next time you are invited to a dinner party, do try these out and make sure that you leave no room for embarrassment.