A runny nose is excess nasal drainage. It may be a thin clear fluid, thick mucus or something in between. The drainage may run out of your nose, down the back of your throat or both.
The terms "rhinorrhea" and "rhinitis" are often used to refer to a runny nose. Rhinorrhea actually refers to a thin, mostly clear nasal discharge. Rhinitis refers to the inflammation of nasal tissues. Rhinitis often results in a runny nose.
If you have a runny nose, you may or may not also have nasal congestion.
A runny nose can be caused by anything that irritates or inflames the nasal tissues. Infections — such as the common cold and influenza — allergies and various irritants may all cause a runny nose. Some people have a chronically runny nose for no apparent reason — a condition called nonallergic rhinitis or vasomotor rhinitis.
Less commonly, a runny nose can be caused by polyps, a foreign body, a tumor or migraine-like headaches.
Causes of a runny nose include:
A runny nose may be annoying and uncomfortable, but it usually clears up on its own. Occasionally, it can be a sign of a more serious problem. A runny nose may be serious in infants.
Until you see your doctor, try these simple steps to relieve symptoms:
Try these measures to relieve postnasal drip — when excess mucus builds up in the back of your throat: