Runny nose; Postnasal drip; Rhinorrhea
Nasal discharge is any mucous-like material that comes out of the nose.
Nasal discharge is common, but rarely serious. Drainage from swollen or infected sinuses may be thick or discolored.
Excess mucous 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.
Keep the mucous 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 mucous:
Antihistamines may reduce the amount of mucous. Be careful, because some antihistamines may make you drowsy. Don't use over-the-counter nasal sprays more often than 3 days on and 3 days off, unless told to by your doctor.
OVERUSE OF ANTIBIOTICS
Many people think that a green or yellow nasal discharge means a bacterial infection, which requires antibiotics. This is NOT true. Colds will often begin with a clear nasal discharge, but after several days it usually turns creamy yellow or green. Colds are caused by viruses, and antibiotics will not help. A green or yellow nasal discharge is not a sign that you need antibiotics.
Your doctor may perform a physical examination, including an examination of the ears, nose, and throat.
Your doctor may ask medical history questions, such as:
Tests that may be performed include:
For allergic rhinitis, the health care provider may prescribe antihistamines. Antibiotics should only be prescribed for bacterial infections.
Bachert C, Gevaert P, van Cauwenberge P. Nasal polyps and rhinosinusitis. In: Adkinson NF Jr., Yunginger JW, Busse WW, Bochner BS, Holgate ST, eds. Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa; Mosby Elsevier; 2003: chap 56.
Long SS. Respiratory tract symptom complexes. In: Long SS, Pickering LK, Prober CG. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2008: chap: 23.
Orban NT, Saleh H,Durham SR. Allergic and non-allergic rhinitis. In: Adkinson NF Jr., Yunginger JW, Busse WW, Bochner BS, Holgate ST, eds. Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa; Mosby Elsevier; 2003: chap 55.
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