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Nasal discharge

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Nasal discharge is a common problem experienced by almost everyone. It is not a serious condition most of the time, but a simple case of runny nose. Fluid drains out of your nose, causing a lot of annoyance.

The irritating mucus is actually very useful for our body. It serves as a booby trap for many bacteria and other debris that enters the nasal passage during breathing. This prevents many allergies and infections from plaguing your respiratory tract.

When one develops a cold or suffers from an allergy, excessive mucus is produced and it starts draining down the throat and nose. When this mucus drains out of the nose, it is considered as nasal discharge or simply called a ‘runny nose’.

What are the symptoms associated with a runny nose?

Nasal discharge can be of different consistency. It could be thick mucus, sometimes greenish that causes severe congestion in your nose and affects breathing.

The nasal discharge at other times is clear, transparent and runny.

There could be a mucus backflow in your throat that is known as post nasal drip. Some other symptoms you might experience along with runny nose are:

The doctor may also look for other signs of nasal discharge such as:

  • Flow of thin, clear discharge indicating common cold or flu and at times allergy
  • Thick, yellow or greenish discharge that indicates bacterial infection
  • Blood-streaked discharge that indicates aggressive blowing of the nose or excessively dry nasal passage
  • One-sided, green, thick and smelly discharge that indicates a foreign object stuck between the nasal passage

What causes nasal discharge?

Some of the most common causes for nasal discharge are:

  • Common cold and flu
  • Irritation in nasal passages due foreign body
  • Microbial infection of nasal passages like bacterial infection or viral infection
  • Allergic or non-allergic rhinitis
  • Overuse of nasal sprays and decongestants
  • Sinusitis, cluster headaches, deviated septum
  • Allergy – hay fever, seasonal allergies, dust mite, pollen, mold, etc.
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) rhinorrhea- brain fluid leaking through the nose

When to see a doctor?

Nasal discharge usually gets cured on its own within a few days with the help of simple home remedies. See your doctor, if it persists for more than 10 days.

Immediate check-up is needed when you have a fever, allergy, or experience some other abnormal symptoms or if it follows a head injury

Diagnosis of nasal discharge

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Your doctor will evaluate the symptoms and ask you questions like, “when did the symptoms start”, “did you observe blood with mucus”, “how bad is your headache, sore throat, and congestion”, “are you allergic to something”, “are you running a fever”, etc.

Let your doctor know if you have a medical condition, are on certain medications, had a trauma, have sinusitis, etc.

Your doctor will check the interior of your nose and throat. For a better analysis you might need to undergo X-ray and CT scans of the brain, sinuses, nose, etc.

The nasal discharge might be sent to the lab for culture.

However, the diagnostic tests are usually performed when your doctor suspects some major health complication; otherwise the diagnosis is pretty simple.

Treatment of nasal discharge

The most common treatment options to cure nasal discharges are:

  • A specific dose of antihistamines to cure allergies, antibiotics and anti-viral medicines
  • Decongestants may be given to alleviate nasal blockages
  • Additionally, your doctor will give you some vitamin C supplements to boost your immunity
  • Your doctor will identify the triggers and ask you to avoid those triggers

Home remedies for nasal discharge

Self-care and home remedies have always been helpful since ages in getting rid of runny and/or congested nose. You can try the following home therapies for some relief:

  • Boil water in a vessel and add some peppermint oil. Cover your head with a towel and inhale the steam for some time. It will help clear your nasal passages of the mucus and congestion.
  • You can buy OTC saline drops, which are safe to use. Apply few drops as per instructions given. However, if you are trying to irrigate your nose, make sure you learn the technique from a healthcare professional or a therapist
  • Drink soups, warm fluids, especially with ginger tea and water to help get rid of the congestion by thinning out the mucus, giving relief to the throat pain and reducing the irritation due to cold.
  • Include foods rich in vitamin C in your diet, like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, etc. to boost your immunity.

Seek immediate medical attention if the discharge has a bad smell and is coming from only one side of the nostril. Follow your doctor’s advice and try some home remedies to get rid of nasal discharge.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: February 04, 2015