Do you carry a box of tissues in your pocket, because your nose is always runny? A constant runny nose is an annoyance and an inconvenience – but what causes this problem?
The most common cause of a constant runny nose is perennial rhinitis. Unlike seasonal allergic rhinitis, an allergic reaction that occurs when certain plants and trees are blooming outdoors, perennial rhinitis is an annoyance year round, and is usually caused by indoor allergens such as dust mites, mold, and pet dander.
In addition to a constant runny nose, perennial rhinitis causes itchy eyes, nose, and throat and itching and sneezing. Many of the triggers for perennial rhinitis are found outside, so you can’t escape the problem by taking shelter in your home. Having a constant runny nose year-round causes a significant amount of distress for many perennial rhinitis sufferers.
Treating Perennial Rhinits
The first step towards fixing a constant runny nose is to identify the allergic triggers. This usually involves allergy testing by an allergist. Once you know the triggers, eliminate them as much as possible through aggressive housecleaning and HEPA filters. If dust mites are a trigger, investing in tightly-woven bed coverings and mattresses helps to control these pesky critters.
In some cases, a thorough house cleaning, wiping down all surfaces, cleaning carpeting and thoroughly washing bedcovers may be all that’s needed to reduce the symptoms of perennial rhinitis. If not, intranasal steroid sprays work well, although they may cause some irritation of the nasal passages, and, in rare cases, perforation of the septum of the nose. It’s best to use the lowest dose possible to control a constant runny nose.
Some doctors also recommend non-sedating antihistamines and decongestants for perennial rhinitis, although it’s wise to limit these medications as much as possible due to potential side effects. Immunotherapy, which exposes a person with perennial rhinitis to low doses of the allergen to induce tolerance, works well for some people.
Are there natural treatments for perennial rhinitis that work? Some studies show that bromelain, found in pineapple and quercetin, a flavonol found in apples and red onions helps allergic symptoms. Vitamin C also reduces the release of histamine, the chemical responsible for many perennial rhinitis symptoms.
Other Causes of a Constant Runny Nose
Perennial rhinitis is the most common cause, but it’s a good idea to see a doctor if you have a constant runny nose since anatomical problems in the nasal passages and sinuses can lead to a runny nose due to chronic sinusitis. There are also less common conditions that cause a constant runny nose such as nasal sarcodosis, Wegner’s granulomatosis, a tumor in the nasal cavity, a foreign body in the nasal passages and certain medications.
The Bottom Line?
Stop sniffling and blowing your nose, and see your doctor if you have a nose that’s constantly running. If it’s perennial rhinitis, consider getting allergy testing to find out what triggers you need to avoid.
Altern Med Rev . 2000 Oct;5(5):448-54.
Medscape.com. “Treatment Options for the Management of Perennial Allergic Rhinitis”