When most of us experience a runny nose, we know that it is a result of a cold or an allergy and that with some time and medicine it will go away. But what happens when days, weeks, months, or even years go by and your runny nose hasn’t cleared up? As it turns out, there are several reasons why you may be experiencing a chronic or long-term runny nose (chronic rhinorrhea).
As you probably guessed, allergies are the most common cause of a runny nose. However, they aren’t the only cause. Your consistent runny nose can be a result of a health condition:
1. Chronic sinusitis
Sinusitis is an infection of your sinuses, which are tunnel-like spaces in your head that connect to your nose. What causes sinusitis? This short-lived sinus infection typically occurs as a result of a viral infection or severe allergies. You may experience sinus pain and congestion, that goes away on its own.
Chronic sinusitis, however, is a long-lasting infection of your sinuses.
“Chronic sinusitis is inflammation of the nasal cavity and sinuses that lasts more than 12 weeks,” Otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat expert, or ENT) Raj Sindwani, MD explains. “This inflammation can cause a constant runny nose that goes on for months or even years.”
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2. Nonallergic rhinitis
If you notice that you are experiencing irritation or inflammation around the lining of your nose that isn’t a direct result of allergies, you may have nonallergic rhinitis.
“Nonallergic rhinitis feels like allergies because you have clear fluid running out of your nose,” says Dr. Sindwani. “But your body isn’t having an allergic reaction. Instead, something is irritating your nasal passages, leading to the running and dripping.”
The good news is this condition isn’t usually serious, however, it can be quite bothersome. Hormonal changes such as pregnancy or menstrual cycles can trigger nonallergic rhinitis. Certain medications can also cause chronic runny nose.
Medications that may cause nonallergic rhinitis include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Oral contraceptives (birth control pills).
If you are taking any of these and experiencing chronic runny nose, you should