Rhinorrhea: The medical term for a runny nose

A runny nose is a common condition that’s caused by the discharge of nasal fluids.

Mucus is produced by nasal or adjacent tissues or blood vessels in the nose, and it normally drains without you even noticing it. However, excess drainage can occur with mucus that ranges from a watery clear fluid to thick mucus. It can run out of your nostrils or drip down the back of your throat, or both.

You may also sometimes hear the runny nose medical term “rhinorrhea” used.

In this blog, Manhattan otolaryngologist Dr. David O. Volpi will explain more about the runny nose medical term known as rhinorrhea, including information about its causes and symptoms.

What is rhinorrhea?

The runny nose medical term rhinorrhea is derived from the Greek words “rhinos,” which means nose, and “-rrhea,” which means flow or discharge. It usually refers to a thick, relatively clear nasal discharge.

Rhinorrhea is caused by inflamed nasal tissues, which can result from several issues, including infections (such as a cold or the flu) or allergies. In some cases, a trauma such as a head injury can cause a runny nose.

A runny nose can sometimes also be accompanied by nasal congestion.

What are the symptoms of rhinorrhea?

Rhinorrhea is itself a symptom, but it may also have a few more associated symptoms other than a runny nose. In addition to the discharge of mucus from the nose – which can be clear, yellowish, greenish, or even brownish – a patient with rhinorrhea may also have other related issues as well.

You may also experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Sneezing
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Chills
  • Breathing problems
  • Lack of energy
  • Pain in the ear and face
  • Skin redness or rash

In rare cases, a runny nose can be caused by a serious injury to the head or spine. If this is the case, you may experience fainting, bleeding, and frequent vomiting.

What are the causes of a runny nose?

The runny nose medical term rhinorrhea can be attributed to multiple causes, including the following:

  • Acute sinusitis (sinus infection)
  • Allergies
  • Chronic sinusitis (a sinus infection that lasts for at least 12 weeks and doesn’t respond to treatment)
  • Common cold
  • Decongestant nasal spray overuse, which can cause a “rebound” effect
  • Deviated septum (an off-center or crooked septum, which separates your nose into two nostrils)
  • Nasal polyps (non-cancerous growths in your nose)

When should I see a doctor for my runny nose?

In most cases, a runny nose is an annoyance, but it goes away on its own when given a little time. Occasionally, it can be an indication of a more serious problem.

You should see an otolaryngologist if you have any of the following:

  • Symptoms that last for more than 10 days
  • A high fever
  • Yellow-green nasal discharge that’s accompanied by sinus pain or fever
  • Bloody nasal discharge
  • Persistent clear discharge after an injury

Where can I be treated for my runny nose in the New York City area?

At ENT NY, we’re dedicated to providing the highest level of care for each patient. We utilize the latest, most advanced ear, nose, and throat (ENT) technologies to accurately diagnose and effectively treat each of our patients.

Dr. Volpi is a board-certified otolaryngologist who has been in practice for more than 25 years. After making an accurate diagnosis, he’ll thoroughly explain your treatment options and answer any questions you may have. Dr. Volpi is experienced in the latest, minimally invasive ENT procedures to treat snoring, sleep apnea, and sinusitis in New York City.

Schedule an appointment today to take the first step toward effective treatment and relief!

  • Posted on: Jul 28 2016
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Posted in: Ear nose and throat doctor, ent specialist, Rhinorrhea