Description, Causes and Risk Factors:
Nasal discharge is common, but rarely serious. Drainage from swollen or infected sinuses may be thick or discolored. Excess mucus may run down the back of your throat (postnasal drip) or cause a cough that is usually worse at night. A sore throat may also result from too much mucous drainage.The mucous drainage may plug up the Eustachian tube between the nose and the ear, causing an ear infection and pain. The mucous drip may also plug the sinus passages, causing sinus infection and pain.There are many potential causes for nasal discharge. Some of the most common include:The Common Cold or the Flu: The common cold is the result of a viral infection in your nose and throat. According to the Mayo Clinic, more than 100 different viruses can cause the common cold. Though a cold might make you feel miserable, it is typically harmless in the long run. The flu is the result of a virus that attacks your nose, throat, and lungs. Unlike the common cold, the flu can be dangerous for people who are at high risk, such as for children and the elderly.Nasal discharge is a very routine symptom for both the common cold and the flu. When you are sick with these illnesses, your body makes extra mucus — in order to trap the virus before it can make its way to your lungs and other parts of your body. Some of this mucus leaves your body through your nose.You might experience nasal discharge if you are allergic to a certain substance and you touch it or inhale it. Materials that cause an allergic reaction are called allergens. Common allergens include dust, pet hair, and grass. Your body reacts to the allergens as though they were harmful bacteria, causing your nose to run.Other Risk Factors:
- Bacterial infections.
- Hay fever.
- Head injury.
- Small objects in the nostril (especially in children).
You should focus on making sure your mucus is thin, and not sticky or thick. Thick, sticky mucus can cause problems with your breathing and put you at greater risk for complications, such as ear infections. One way to thin out your mucus is to drink plenty of fluids. You can also use a saline nasal spray, or turn on a humidifier to add water to the air. Do not use a decongestant nasal spray for more than three days in a row, unless your doctor has told you to do so.Antihistamines: Antihistamines are drugs that prevent the symptoms of allergies. Some antihistamines can make you extremely drowsy. Always check the label for recommendations about operating heavy machinery or performing other tasks while taking the medication.Antihistamines can also react with other medications. Be sure to talk with your doctor before taking antihistamines, especially if you already use muscle relaxers, sleeping pills, or sedatives.Addressing Cold and Flu: If a cold or flu is causing your nasal discharge, there is not much treatment available. You should be sure to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. If your flu symptoms are severe, your doctor might prescribe you an antiviral medication. This may reduce the time it takes for you to heal.Symptoms:Nasal discharge is characterized by an excess amount of mucus produced by the mucous membranes that line the nasal cavities. The membranes create mucus faster than it can be processed, causing a backup of mucus in the nasal cavities. As the cavity fills up, it blocks off the air passageway, causing difficulty breathing through the nose. Air caught in nasal cavities, namely the sinus cavities, cannot be released and the resulting pressure may cause a headache or facial pain. If the sinus passage remains blocked, there is a chance that sinusitis may result. If the mucus backs up through the Eustachian tube, it may result in ear pain or an ear infection. Excess mucus accumulating in the throat or back of the nose may cause a post-nasal drip, resulting in a sore throat or coughing. Additional symptoms include sneezing, nosebleeds, and nasal discharge.Diagnosis:Diagnosis may include the following tests:
- Culture will guide any antibiotic therapy.
- X-ray of sinuses may show clouding from infection.
- Specialist investigation (eg CT scanning and screening tests for cystic fibrosis) may be required to rule out the rarer causes.
- Examination of the nose and mouth using a fine tube a biopsy may be taken & evaluated for the presence of cancer cells or infection.
Keep the mucus thin rather than thick and sticky. This helps prevent complications, such as ear and sinus infections, and plugging of your nasal passages. To thin the mucus:
NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
- Drink extra fluids.
- Increase the humidity in the air with a vaporizer or humidifier.
- Use saline nasal sprays.
- Antihistamines may reduce the amount of mucus. Be careful, because some antihistamines may make you drowsy. Do not use over-the-counter nasal sprays more often than 3 days on and 3 days off, unless told to by your physician/ENT.