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What Causes Scratchy Throat and Runny Nose?

We all know that scratchy throat, runny nose, and sneezing are symptoms of common cold. Certain other medical conditions can also cause these symptoms.
Sonia Nair
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
A scratchy throat, along with a runny nose is often experienced by those with common cold, a condition that affects people of all ages. Otherwise known as viral upper respiratory tract infection, this condition is commonly seen in children, elderly, and people with a weak immune system. Usually, cold is associated with symptoms, like scratchy throat, runny nose, headache, and cough. There are some other medical conditions, which are also manifested with these symptoms.
Causes Other than Common Cold
As mentioned earlier, scratchy throat and runny nose are symptoms that are associated with common cold; which is a contagious disease caused by different types of viruses, especially rhinovirus. Apart from these symptoms, the affected people may also experience watery eyes, cough, headaches, muscle aches, weakness, loss of appetite, shivering, and exhaustion. There is no effective treatment for this condition; and antibiotics do not work, as these drugs are targeted at bacteria, not virus. In the normal course, the symptoms will subside within a few days or a maximum of two weeks. The affected person may resort to salt water gargling, antihistamines, and rest. Drinking plenty of water may also work wonders. Given below are some medical conditions that cause scratchy throat and runny nose.
Flu or Influenza: The symptoms of both cold and influenza are somewhat similar. However, fever is one such symptom that is associated with flu, and not cold. In case of influenza, the symptoms appear all of a sudden, are more severe, and worsen quickly. It takes almost two weeks for the symptoms of flu, to subside.
Allergic Rhinitis: Allergic rhinitis is characterized by symptoms, like scratchy throat and runny nose. Otherwise known as hay fever, this condition affects people during the spring season, when flowers bloom and grass turns green. The allergens that cause allergic rhinitis are usually found in the air; and include, pollen, molds, grass particles, and dust. This medical condition may also cause symptoms, like watery eyes, sneezing, itching of eyes, and headaches. Severe cases may result in wheezing and breathing problems. Antihistamines are administered to combat this medical condition. It is advisable to adopt some preventive measures for avoiding contact with allergens.
Other Allergies: Symptoms like scratchy throat, runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing, are also classified as allergic reactions. The most common symptom associated with allergies is itchy and watery eyes. Allergies can be seasonal, like allergic rhinitis. Contact with allergens, like pet hair, cleaning products, certain food items, cigarette smoke, dust, etc., causes such symptoms in some people.
Sinus Infection: This condition is characterized by inflammation of the nasal passages and the sinuses. Apart from scratchy throat and runny nose, this condition may also cause other symptoms, like post nasal drip, head aches, and sneezing. A sinus infection can be differentiated from other conditions by symptoms, like facial pain or pain in the jaws and upper teeth. This condition may need antibiotics for treatment. Apart from conventional treatment, you may also resort to remedies, like salt water gargling and steam inhalation.
Apart from medical conditions mentioned above, scratchy throat and runny nose may occur in various other diseases, like chronic rhinitis, otitis media, bronchitis, pneumonia, whooping cough, measles, mumps, and mononucleosis. While conventional treatment is available for most of the conditions that cause these symptoms, it is always better to adopt some preventive measures, especially in case of allergies. Maintaining personal hygiene is important in preventing contagious viral infections, like common cold and flu. You can also resort to salt water gargling as a dry scratchy throat remedy, and steam inhalation as a remedy for runny nose. If the symptoms are severe, or if they do not subside within a maximum of ten to twelve days; you must seek medical attention to avoid further complications.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.