A runny nose or watery nose is the result of nasal tissue producing excessive amounts of mucus that run down the back of the throat or out of the nose, according to MayoClinic.com. A runny nose is a symptom of a condition or sickness and needs to be evaluated by a medical doctor. Some watery nose conditions are chronic, lasting a long time, while others typically clear up on their own in a few days. A runny nose can lead to further complications, such as post nasal drip, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
A runny nose is caused by the common cold, allergies, bacterial infections and sinusitis, according to MedlinePlus. One of the first signs of the common cold is a runny nose, accompanied by a fever, headache and body chills. Allergies produce a runny nose due to increased levels of histamine in the body that irritate the sinuses. Upper respiratory infections cause nasal discharge, such as sinusitis.
Treating a runny nose depends on its cause. MedlinePlus, a service of the National Institutes of Health, recommends keeping the mucus thin and runny by drinking increased amounts of fluids, such as water, juice and other non-caffeinated beverages. Use hot liquids to thin the secretions, such as broth or herbal tea. Increase the amount of humidity in the home to moisten and soothe the sinus cavity. Saline sprays and washes are effective at cleaning the sinus cavity from excessive amounts of mucus. If the runny nose is a result of allergies, avoid triggers.
The most common over-the-counter drug used to treat a runny nose is an antihistamine, according to MedlinePlus. Antihistamines are believed to lessen the amount of mucus produced. Some antihistamines can cause severe drowsiness. If the runny nose caused by a bacterial infection, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Allergy shots may be recommended by an allergist if the nasal discharge is a chronic condition caused by allergies.
MayoClinic.com recommends seeing a doctor if the symptoms last for more than 10 days or someone develops a high fever for more than three days. If the runny nose thickens or turns green in color, talk with a doctor. Swelling or severe pain in the forehead is a sign of a more serious condition. If blood is mixed with the runny nose, make an appointment with a physician.
MedlinePlus states that with excessive mucus in the sinus cavity, an ear infection is more likely. The tubes that drain fluid from the ear may become blocked, encouraging the growth of bacteria, leading to an ear infection. Ear pain or discomfort accompanied by a runny nose needs to be evaluated by a doctor.