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“Runny nose” is a typical symptom of poor physical condition such as colds, rhinitis, and hay fever. If the symptoms continue, it is often inconvenient and annoying, so I would like to deal with it as soon as possible. This time, we will explain the mechanism and cause of runny nose and diseases (diseases) accompanied by runny nose under the supervision of a specialist so that we can deal with it appropriately and quickly. In addition, we will also introduce some measures to relieve the symptoms, so please refer to them.

Supervision: Takeshi Nagatake (Director of Sakuramichi Clinic)

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Why do you have a runny nose?

1Structure and function of the nose

Before learning about runny nose, let’s first explain the structure and function of the nose.
The structure of the nose is formed by bones and cartilage. It is composed of three parts: the “nasal cavity”, which is covered with water, and the “paranasal sinuses”, which is a small cavity inside the bone that surrounds the nostrils. The paranasal sinuses consist of a pair of eight cavities on the left and right, adjacent to the brain and eyes at the back, and partially connected to the nostrils (nasal cavities).
The three main roles of the nose are:

(1) Function as a respiratory organ As an
air passage, it humidifies and warms the air taken into the body and removes foreign substances. Since it has the role of sending air to the lungs, it purifies the air by removing foreign substances such as bacteria, viruses, dust, and dust. Fine and short hairs called pili are transferred to the back of the nose like a conveyor belt to expel foreign substances.

(2) Function as an olfactory device In
the back of the nose, there are cells called olfactory cells to sense the odor, and by taking in air, the odor components contained in the cells are sensed.

Function as a voice resonator The nasal cavity is also a part of the tube that connects to the pharynx and throat, and it vibrates and resonates with the exhaled breath, which affects the sound quality of the voice (when the nose is clogged, it affects the nasal voice). That is the effect).

2Mechanism of runny nose

Most of the runny nose is water, which is a mixture of water from the inhaled air that is condensed, water such as secretions from the lacrimal glands, and water from the mucous membrane of the nose. Even when there is no subjective symptom of runny nose, there is always a small amount of secretion, which helps to humidify the air before it is sent to the lungs.
A runny nose also has an important role in preventing foreign substances that have entered the nasal cavity, such as bacteria, viruses, dust, and dust, from entering the body. Various nerves pass through the mucous membrane of the nose, and when it receives a stimulus such as the invasion of a foreign substance, it reacts and secretes more mucus than usual in an attempt to eliminate the invader. Then, the mucus catches foreign substances and is eliminated by being discharged out of the nose or swallowed through the throat by the action of pili. In addition to acting like a cleaning solution, the nose has protective functions such as sneezing to actively expel foreign substances and causing a stuffy nose to prevent further foreign substances from entering.

Causes of runny nose

1Infection with viruses and bacteria

When a virus or bacterium infects the mucous membrane of the nose, the body that senses the abnormality begins various measures to protect itself. A runny nose is one of the defense reactions of the body, and the action of neutrophils, which are a type of nerves and white blood cells, promotes secretion from the nasal glands in the nasal mucosa, causing a lot of runny nose and washing away viruses. I’m trying.
It is a symptom seen during the so-called “nasal cold”.

2Allergies due to pollen and house dust

Allergens are allergens that cause allergies to a person, such as mites, dust (house dust), sugi and cypress pollen. When an allergen invades, the body that recognizes the foreign substance produces an antibody, and the defense (immune) system for eliminating the foreign substance becomes a standby state. When the same allergen invades the body again in that state, the immune function reacts excessively, resulting in the production of substances that cause an allergic reaction, which causes symptoms such as runny nose, stuffy nose, and sneezing.

What you can tell by the color and condition of the runny nose

img 03 snot

1The color and condition of the runny nose are important signs from the body

The condition of runny nose may change due to (
1) infection with viruses, bacteria, etc., (
2) inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose, and (
3) bleeding in the nose
. If you have a runny nose, look for hints on your health from the condition of your runny nose, such as color, stickiness, and the presence of odors. It may be useful as a guide for whether or not a disease is suspected.

● Major factors that are expected to be the color and condition of a runny nose

・ Transparent
<Runny nose>
Smooth and watery
<Other factors other than diseases>
Stimulation by stimulants such as temperature difference between temperature and spicy food

・ White
<Runny nose>

・ Yellow to green
<Runny nose>
It has a high viscosity and is dripping. May have an odor

・ Red
<Runny nose condition>
Blood is mixed ・ Blood odor
<Other factors other than the disease>
Bleeding due to trauma including excessive nasal blowing (if the blood is dry) It can also be brownish) 

Major illnesses worried about runny nose

* Some of the following diseases / symptoms require a doctor’s diagnosis.
If you are worried, see a doctor early.
If you continue to have cold syndrome, it is recommended that you seek medical attention.

1Cold syndrome

It is a so-called “cold”. The main subjective symptoms are nasal symptoms (snot / stuffy nose) and sore throat, and other well-known symptoms are fever, headache, tiredness (malaise), cough, and tan, but these are viruses, etc. The body that senses the invasion of the pathogen that causes a cold is a manifestation of trying to eliminate foreign substances. The color of the runny nose depends on the amount of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell responsible for immune function) contained, and is thought to be a measure of how advanced the symptoms are. It begins with a transparent, watery substance, and then changes to a yellow to green, sticky, pus-like property.
Care should be taken when a cold can develop into bacterial sinusitis, and once the runny nose has subsided, it worsens again a few days later and becomes muddy. Let’s talk to a medical institution.

2allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is a disease caused by something that causes allergies (allergens) for the person, and is perennial allergic rhinitis that can be seen regardless of the season, such as house dust, and a specific season (such as pollinosis). It is divided into seasonal allergic rhinitis (pollinosis), which is seen only during the period when pollen is scattered.
Symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, and stuffy nose. In particular, sneezing occurs continuously and is characterized by a large number of times. In addition, it is said that there is a phenomenon called morning attack *, in which symptoms worsen when waking up in the morning. The runny nose associated with allergic rhinitis is colorless, non-sticky and dry, and stuffy nose is caused by swelling of the mucous membranes of the nose.

* Sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose and other nasal symptoms appear severely when you just wake up in the morning.

3Acute sinusitis

Inflammation occurs when pathogens such as viruses and bacteria infect the sinuses, and if it is within 4 weeks of the onset, it is called acute sinusitis. It seems that the pathogen often infects the sinuses in the process from catching a cold to healing.
The main symptoms are runny nose and stuffy nose, runny nose flowing into the throat and causing discomfort (post-nasal drip), coughing and tanning, pain in the cheeks, around the nose and forehead, face and eyelids. There are things like swelling and fever. A runny nose is sticky and has a scent. Symptoms are said to improve within about 4 weeks.

FourChronic sinusitis (pyorrhea)

Chronic sinusitis that becomes chronic (prolonged) due to prolonged healing or repeated inflammation during the course of acute sinusitis is called chronic sinusitis, formerly called empyema. It was. The inflammation that has already occurred has reduced the ability to expel foreign substances from the sinuses into the nostrils, resulting in a vicious cycle in which the substances that cause inflammation continue to stay in the sinuses and runny nose.
In chronic sinusitis, there is a sticky and dull runny nose, and symptoms such as a heavy head and no smell (olfaction disorder) continue for more than 3 months. Because the sinuses are close to the brain, inflammation can rarely spread to these areas, leading to brain tumors and meningitis.

FiveEosinophil sinusitis

A benign tumor (polyp) that looks like the mucous membrane swells and hangs down due to inflammation is called a nasal polyp. I have sexual sinusitis. The name of this disease is given to the nasal polyps that appear in this disease because there are many immune cells called eosinophils, but while it has the characteristic of being difficult to cure (refractory), the exact cause is unknown. However, it is said to be associated with the development of bronchial asthma and aspirin asthma.
Symptoms include stuffy nose, sticky runny nose, and dysosmia, as well as stuffy ears that cause deafness and asthma attacks. The runny nose can be seen as sticky.

6Vascular motility (essential) rhinitis

Vasomotor rhinitis or essential rhinitis is a disease in which the same symptoms as allergic rhinitis, such as continuous swelling, runny nose, and stuffy nose, are seen, but no allergic reaction is observed even after examination. ..
The exact cause is unknown, but it is thought to be related to the autonomic nerves of the nasal mucosa, such as nerve stimulation when touching a sudden temperature difference, such as when entering a room with air conditioning. Symptoms (allergy to temperature difference) are thought to occur. It is said that this disease is especially common in middle-aged women, and it is thought that rhinitis (senile rhinitis), which is common in the elderly, is the same.

7Post-nasal drip

Post-nasal drip is not a disease, but a symptom of runny nose flowing into the throat, and is associated with various diseases that cause runny nose as mentioned above. It is normal for a part of the runny nose to flow into the throat, but if the amount is large or the runny nose becomes sticky, the runny nose will stick to the throat with discomfort. It will be like. In particular, post-nasal drip due to sinusitis may irritate the throat and trachea and cause a cough, which may cause strong discomfort and affect daily life.


1Diseases related to runny nose

A disease that should be noted in relation to runny nose is
otitis media, a disease of the middle ear located behind the eardrum of the ear. The nose is connected to the middle ear by a tube called the Eustachian tube, and inflammation caused by viruses and bacteria that have moved from the nose to the middle ear is otitis media.
Symptoms begin with acute otitis media, severe pain in the ears, and hearing loss as if the ears are clogged, and when it gets worse, the eardrum may tear and pus may overflow. In addition, if the fluid produced by acute otitis media remains behind the eardrum, it may cause exudative otitis media, which causes the eardrum to become stagnant and difficult to hear. It is important to note that serous otitis media is difficult to notice because it does not have ear pain or fever like acute otitis media.
Otitis media is often followed by sinusitis and is said to be caused by the same bacteria as acute sinusitis.

Prevention that can be done in daily life

1Repel cold viruses

Most colds are caused by viruses. The key to cold prevention is how to block the virus.
Avoid crowds and downtown areas during the cold season, and wear a mask when you’re out to reduce your chances of getting in contact with the virus. In addition to avoiding contact, it is also useful to remove the virus attached by diligent hand washing and gargling. On top of that, it is important to keep in mind sufficient rest and balanced nutrition, to develop physical strength and to increase the body’s resistance.

2Adjust room temperature and humidity

When the air is cold and dry, the mucous membranes of the airways lose their protective function, making them more susceptible to virus infection. It is recommended to adjust the room temperature to 20 to 25 ° C and the humidity to 50 to 60%.
In addition, some people are more likely to have a runny nose in winter, which is said to be due to the stimulation of the cold to promote the secretion of runny nose. You may have a runny nose due to the environment, not the illness.

3Keep away the causes of allergies

To prevent allergic rhinitis, it is important to prevent the cause of allergies (allergens) from entering the nasal cavity. This time, we will introduce measures against house dust and pollen, which are typical allergens.

[Effective measures against both house dust and pollen]
・ Clean frequently to remove allergens such as house dust and pollen
・ Use an air purifier as an auxiliary

[Countermeasures against house dust]
・ Carpets, beds, etc. Clean furniture such as cloth sofas
frequently, dry bedding such as futons diligently, use a futon dryer, etc., and take good care of them.
・ When purchasing furniture, avoid cloths that tend to have house dust. Sho

[measures to pollen]
when the pollen scattering is large, it declined to go out, let’s tighten the window-door
Let’s refrain from hanging out, laundry outside
at the time, go out wearing a mask and glasses Block the invasion of pollen
・ When entering from the outdoors to indoors, remove the pollen from clothes and hair and try not to bring it in.
・ After returning home, wash your face, gargle, and blow your nose.

Remedies to relieve the symptoms of a runny nose

1Ingenuity in lifestyle

I have a lot of runny nose and it is hard, and I have trouble with nasal symptoms such as stuffy nose. What are the workarounds? We have summarized the recommended countermeasures with countermeasures against viruses, bacteria and allergens in mind.

・ Hand washing and gargle habits Some
diseases that cause nasal symptoms, such as colds and infectious sinusitis, are caused by viruses and bacteria. Make it a habit to wash your hands and gargle as an infection control measure.
・ Wearing a
mask To prevent the invasion of substances that cause nasal symptoms, such as those caused by virus / bacterial infections and allergies, and to prevent deterioration of the defense function against viruses / bacteria due to dry nasal mucosa. It’s useful.
・ Blow your
nose correctly Since a runny nose tries to expel foreign substances such as pathogens from the body, do not sip the runny nose and take it into the body, but try to expel it out of the body as much as possible.

[Points on how to blow your nose] (
1 ) Hold the opposite nostril firmly and chew one by one (
2) Breathe in through your mouth and blow your nose (
3) Do not try to runny nose in a hurry, but chew little by little (
4) Strongly Don’t bite too much

2Use over-the-counter drugs

There are two main types of over-the-counter medicines that can be used to treat runny nose: internal medicines and external medicines. Internal medicines include common cold medicines, rhinitis medicines, and Chinese herbal medicines, and external medicines include nasal drops (medicines that are injected into the nose and deliver the ingredients directly to the mucous membranes). Since each has different effects and characteristics, it is recommended to use them properly according to the symptoms and circumstances.
The following is a summary of the main types of over-the-counter drugs and active ingredients by internal and external medicine. Please use it as a reference when choosing the over-the-counter drug to use.

● Oral medicine (general cold medicine, rhinitis medicine)

・ Parasympathetic nerve blocking component
Suppresses the secretion of runny nose.
<Main ingredients>
Isopropamide iodide, Belladonna total alkaloid

/ antihistamine ingredient
Suppresses the action of histamine that causes allergic symptoms.
Improves runny nose and stuffy nose, relieves sneezing.
<Main ingredients>
d-Chlorpheniramine maleate, mequitazine,
diphenhydramine, fexofenadine hydrochloride,
epinastine hydrochloride, loratadine

● External medicine (nasal drops)

・ Antihistamine component
Suppresses the action of histamine that causes allergic symptoms.
Improves runny nose and stuffy nose, relieves sneezing.
<Main ingredients>
Chlorpheniramine maleate, ketotifen fumarate

/ anti-allergic ingredients
Suppresses the release of allergic substances from cells and makes allergic reactions less likely to occur.
<Main ingredients>
Sodium cromoglycate

, sterilizing and disinfecting ingredients
Cleans the inside of the nasal cavity and helps alleviate stuffy nose.
<Main ingredients>
Benzetonium chloride

/ corticosteroid
< Function > Improves
runny nose and stuffy nose by anti-inflammatory action, and relieves sneezing.
<Main ingredients>

/ local anesthetic ingredient
Relieves nasal discomfort.
<Main ingredients>

3Get a medical examination at the hospital

If you have severe nasal drainage or stuffy nose, you will not be able to breathe through your nose, resulting in mouth breathing, loss of concentration, loss of odor (olfaction disorder), heavy head, etc. It is thought that it will cause problems. Especially in the case of symptoms that do not improve in a short period of time, there is a possibility that sinusitis may become chronic or intractable sinusitis. If you have any of the following symptoms, consider seeing a medical institution such as your GP or otolaryngologist.

・ Continued runny nose for more than a week ・
Symptoms such as stuffy nose and heavy head, cheeks / around the nose ・ Pain in the forehead and incomprehensible (difficult to understand)
・ Sticky and strong runny nose Long-lasting
・ Symptoms of asthma appear with runny nose, such as stuffy breath and “see-see” sounds when breathing

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