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Alternative Names Return to topRunny nose; Postnasal drip; Rhinorrhea
Definition Return to top
Nasal discharge is any mucus-like material that comes out of the nose.
Considerations Return to top
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 mucus drainage.
The mucus drainage may plug up the eustachian tube between the nose and the ear, causing an ear infection and pain. The mucus drip may also plug the sinus passages, causing sinus infection and pain.
Causes Return to top
Home Care Return to top
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:
Antihistamines may reduce the amount of mucus. 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.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
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: