A runny nose is a bothersome symptom that usually occurs as a result of a viral infection that goes away within a couple of weeks. When runny nose is constant and does not dissipate, even with medication, it can indicate chronic disorders in the nose or sinuses. Although they can be extremely bothersome, the chronic conditions that cause a runny nose are not usually serious.
Nonallergic rhinitis is a chronic nasal condition characterized by repeated sneezing and a congested, runny nose that has no known cause. The symptoms of nonallergic rhinitis are similar to allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, but do not occur as a result of an allergic reaction, according to MayoClinic.com. The main symptoms include constant runny nose, stuffy nose and postnasal drip. Symptoms of nonallergic rhinitis usually come and go at various intervals. When symptoms are present, they can last for days at a time. Treatment for nonallergic rhinitis depends on severity of symptoms. Those with moderate symptoms may benefit from the use of medicated nasal sprays and decongestants. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.
Chronic sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinus that occurs as a result of an infection with bacteria, viruses or fungi and lasts for over three months. Mucus also builds up in the sinuses and causes a significant blockage. When the sinuses are inflamed, it can cause a number of symptoms, including constant runny nose, loss of smell, cough, bad breath, fever, headache, nasal congestion, fatigue and sore throat. Treatment for sinusitis usually consists of antibiotics or antifungal medication that must be continued for a period of three to four weeks, according to Medline Plus. If medications are ineffective, surgery may be needed to clean and drain the sinuses.
Nasal polyps are growths of tissue that develop on the inside tissue of the nose or sinuses. The growth of nasal polyps usually begins at the top of the nose and moves down into the rest of the nasal cavity, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If polyps are large, they can block the nasal passages and cause a constant runny nose, reduced sense of smell, nasal blockage and heavy mouth breathing. Treatment options, such as nasal sprays and corticosteroids, may be used to relieve symptoms, but they do not cure polyps. If symptoms are persistent or extremely bothersome, surgery may be used to remove the polyps.