What is rhinorrhoea?

Rhinorrhoea - nasal discharge - is something that most of us will experience at some point in our lives. It could be caused by a number of different factors and affects both adults and children. There is often a simple explanation for rhinorrhoea, such as the common cold, and this will clear up quickly and without the need for medical intervention. However, persistent rhinorrhoea may require more help. This is everything that you need to know when dealing with rhinorrhoea.

What causes rhinorrhoea?

Some of the most common causes of rhinorrhea include hayfever, allergies and the common cold. Colds and hayfever tend to be seasonal while allergies can affect you all year round. Where nasal discharge is a problem these are most likely to be the reasons for it but there are also some other, less obvious, causes that may need to be considered, including:

  • Nasal polyps. This usually happens if there has been ongoing inflammation or allergy reactions.
  • Rebound congestion as a result of finishing treatment with decongestant drugs (this can also occur due to the use of a drug like cocaine).
  • Cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhoea. This condition can follow a head injury and the rhinorrhoea is the result of cerebrospinal fluid leaking into the nose. It is rare but should be treated urgently.

Diagnosing rhinorrhoea

There are a range of different factors to take into account when diagnosing a condition such as rhinorrhoea. For example, it will be important to look at when symptoms began and whether there is repetition that could indicate a seasonal cause, for example in the case of hayfever. If rhinorrhoea is accompanied by sneezing and watery eyes then the most likely cause may be allergies. Where there are also symptoms of a fever, aches and pains then an infection may be behind nasal discharge. Patients will usually be asked about any hobbies in a dusty environment, whether any decongestants have been tried and also whether there has been use of a drug like cocaine. For most people, there will be no further examination required but something like blood in mucus or discovering a foreign body will necessitate further action.

Treating rhinorrhoea

Treatment for rhinorrhoea will depend on the cause of the nasal discharge. The common cold is one of the main reasons many people have rhinorrhoea and this can be triggered by a number of different viruses. This can sometimes lead to an ear infection, especially in children, and if there is a secondary infection of the mucus this could result in a condition such as sinusitis or bronchitis. While rhinorrhoea will often clear up on its own if it is caused by a common cold, where there is a secondary infection antibiotics may be required to help deal with the problem. There are medical solutions available, such as topical and oral corticosteroids for nasal polyps and antihistamines for allergies.

For most people rhinorrhoea will be the result of something simple, such as a cold or hayfever, which will either clear up on its own or can be simply treated. However, if you feel like you need to get help with rhinorrhoea it’s always worth making an appointment.

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The Harley Street ENT clinic in London can provide all of the care that you need when you have an ear, nose, throat or balance problem. We ensure that you can get all of the right tests, treatments and advice in one convenient place.