Categories: Health & Fitness

Rhinorrhea: definition, where does this runny nose come from, how to remedy it?

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You are a bit cold and your nose starts to run ? What could be more banal – and more annoying on a daily basis! This endless runny nose has a little-known medical name: rhinorrhea. It can occur “forward” (mucus exits through the nostrils) or “backward” (mucus flows toward the throat). Said mucus, often clear and transparent, can thicken and become thick or purulent. Should we be worried about it? How to avoid this phenomenon and above all, how to stop it once started? Response elements.

Definition: what is rhinorrhea?

As stated above, rhinorrhea refers to a discharge of more or less clear and more or less thick secretions. The flow can pass through the nasal cavities (rhinorrhea anterior) or pass into the throat, especially when lying down (rhinorrhea posterior).

Very uncomfortable, this phenomenon is often a protective mechanism of the nasal mucosa against infection or inflammation.

Posterior, anterior, chronic, purulent, bloody… What are the types of rhinorrhea?

We are talking about chronic rhinorrhea when rhinorrhea persists permanently or intermittently for more than three months.

Rhinorrhea may be anterior : the mucus is evacuated by the nose, which implies having to blow your nose.

Rhinorrhea can also be posterior : in this case, the mucus “falls” to the back of the throat and is swallowed without the person necessarily being aware of it.

The mucus can also be more or less purulent, viscous, nauseous, even bloody. This is why we sometimes speak of purulent, bloody, or viscous rhinorrhea.

What are the symptoms of rhinorrhea?

Patients with rhinorrhea simply have a runny nose. And flowing. And flowing… This untimely flow can be disabling and lead to irritation in the nose, or even pain when blowing your nose.

To note : rhinorrhea can be unilateral (the mucus is evacuated by only one nostril) or bilateral (the mucus is evacuated by the two nostrils).

What symptoms can be associated with a runny nose?

Runny nose may persist for some time and be accompanied by other symptoms:

  • a stuffy nose (nasal congestion) ;
  • of the sneezing ;
  • of the sore throat ;
  • a persistent cough ;
  • a decreased sense of smell.

What are the symptoms that should alert?

If a runny nose may seem trivial, it must however be taken seriously in certain cases:

  • If it is a unilateral purulent / bloody and chronic rhinorrhea.
  • And/or if you feel particular pain or tenderness in your face.

Consult a doctor to avoid any complications and to treat any problems (presence of a foreign body, a tumour, etc.).

Causes: Why does my nose run and it doesn’t stop in the back of my throat?

The causes of rhinorrhea are very varied. Among the most frequent:

  • a common cold ;
  • a flu ;
  • a sinus infection (sinusitis);
  • of the allergiesmost often seasonal (allergic rhinitis).

Note: Inflammation of the nasal mucosa can also be caused by other pathogens or irritantssuch as cigarette smoke or pollution.

In some rarer cases, rhinorrhea can also be caused by a frontal trauma that caused a fracture of the anterior level of the base of the skull which passes through the frontal sinus. In this case, the intracranial space comes into contact with the nasal cavities, which can have serious repercussions.

Runny nose: what are the consequences?

Excess mucus in the back of the throat may be causing a cough or sore throatas indicated previously.

If secretions leak out through the eustachian tube (the tube that connects the nose to the middle ear), it can lead to pain in the ears, or even otitis.

Finally, if the nose is completely blocked, it can pressurize the sinuses and cause headache. Not counting the risk of sinusitis.

How to diagnose rhinorrhea?

Logically, the diagnosis of rhinorrhea is clinical: the nose runs. But it is up to the doctor to characterize the flow : is it rather fluid and clear, in which case one thinks of a simple allergic rhinitis or not. Is it rather yellow and slimy, in which case an infection is suspected. Is it associated with other symptoms? Are both nostrils affected? Is it possible that a foreign body has lodged in the nose? What is his impact on the patient’s daily life ? In addition to the clinical examination and the interview, the professional can rely on a scanner or fibroscopy and carry out an allergological and pneumological assessment when he suspects an allergy or asthma.

Treatment: how to treat and stop a runny nose and a runny throat?

Treatment for rhinorrhea depends on its cause.

In case of rhinitis, the treatment is symptomatic:

  • to drink a lot of water to keep mucus fluid;
  • wash your nose several times a day using thermal water or sea water;
  • apply a warm, damp cloth on the nose and face several times a day;
  • make inhalations two to three times a day;
  • ventilate your interior several times a day ;
  • bet on specific drugs aimed at reducing the flow (only on the advice of your doctor or pharmacist).

In case of allergic rhinitistreatment involves taking antihistamines, avoidance measures and possibly a desensitization procedure.

A symptomatic treatment is also put in place after having treated the possible infection in question, removed the foreign body or carried out the necessary operation.

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