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Runny nose

Runny nose: Introduction

A runny nose is a symptom of a wide variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions. A runny nose can result from infection, inflammation, trauma, foreign body and other abnormal processes.

A runny nose can occur in any age group or population. A runny nose can indicate a mild condition, such as a mild allergy. A runny nose can also be the result of a moderate condition, disorder or disease, such as influenza, upper respiratory infection or adenoid disorder. A runny nose can also occur in conditions that happen before the development of some serious secondary infections that can be life-threatening. These include pneumonia acute bronchitis and bronchiolitis.

Depending on the cause, a runny nose can be short-term and disappear quickly, such as when a runny nose occurs after briefly inhaling an irritant, such as dust. A runny nose can also occur in sudden episodes, such as a runny nose that happens with allergic rhinitis. A runny nose can also be chronic and ongoing over a longer period of time, such as when a runny nose is due to cold or upper respiratory infection.

A runny nose can be the result of a wide variety of other conditions, including trauma to the nose or skull, allergies, sinusitis and cerebral spinal fluid rhinorrhea.

A runny nose often occurs in conjunction with other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Other common symptoms include fever or headache, sore throat, and flu-like symptoms. Complications of a runny nose can occur from excessive blowing. These include nosebleed. The underlying disorder, disease or condition can also cause complications. For more details about symptoms and complications, see symptoms of a runny nose.

Diagnosing a runny nose and its root cause begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. This may include looking up the nose with a special lighted instrument called a rhinoscope.

A physician or other healthcare provider may also listen with a stethoscope to the sounds that the lungs make. Certain lung sounds point to some diseases that may develop in some people who have had a cold or upper respiratory infection with a runny nose. For example, bubbling lung sounds may point to a diagnosis of pneumonia.

Making a diagnosis also includes performing a variety of other tests to help to diagnose potential underlying diseases, conditions or disorders, such as strep throat, sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, skull fracture, or influenza. Depending on the suspected cause, tests can include blood tests, nasal swab tests, allergy skin testing, and imaging tests, such as X-ray, CT scan, nuclear scans, and MRI.

A diagnosis of a runny nose and its cause can easily be delayed or missed because a runny nose may be mild or intermittent and for other reasons. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of a runny nose.

Treatment of a runny nose involves diagnosing and treating the underlying disease, disorder or condition that is causing it. Some conditions can be easily and successfully treated and cured, while others may require more intensive treatment and may not have an optimal prognosis. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of a runny nose....more »

Causes of Runny nose

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