Clear Nasal Drip
Clear nasal drip, or a runny nose, is often caused by inflammation inside the nose and it is a usual symptom of common colds or allergies, Occasional or mild clear nasal drip will often resolve within a few days or weeks. However, there are more serious causes of clear nasal drip, such as a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak or nasal polyps, so it is important to see an experienced nose and sinus specialist if you have severe or uncontrollable nasal drip or nasal drip accompanied by other troublesome symptoms.
EXPERT TREATMENT FOR CLEAR NASAL DRIP IN HOUSTON
As a Board Certified ENT and one of the only fellowship-trained Rhinologists in Texas, Dr. Arjuna Kuperan is a leader in the treatment of nose and sinus conditions. He knows that a persistent clear nasal drip is a frustrating symptom and he understands that it can be a sign of many different underlying conditions. At Houston Advanced Nose and Sinus, Dr. Kuperan works closely with each patient to create a treatment plan that provides them with relief from nasal and sinus symptoms.
WHAT CAUSES CLEAR NASAL DRIP?
There are many different causes of inflammation that can result in clear nasal drip, like allergies and sinus infection. Most commonly, allergic triggers in the air cause the nasal mucosa to generate inflammatory mediators that produce clear mucus—this is called allergic rhinitis and it affects up to 30% of Americans.1 Sinus infections can also increase inflammation inside the nose and cause increased clear mucus production or discolored mucus.
Non-inflammatory causes of clear nasal drip can be more serious, such as cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak and overactive mucous production from excessive nasal nerve stimulation. The CSF that surrounds the brain can leak through the sinuses and into the nose; while this is relatively rare, it can be more common after a facial or head injury. In some patients, a very clear watery nasal drainage that drips quickly from the nose can develop due to hyperactive nasal nerve stimulation in a condition called vasomotor rhinitis.
WHEN SHOULD I SEE A DOCTOR FOR A RUNNY NOSE?
Many of us deal with an occasional nasal drip due to a cold or allergies. So when is it time to see a nose specialist? Symptoms associated with clear nasal drip that are concerning include:
- Salty taste in the mouth associated with the nasal drip
- Nasal drip that is excessive and is associated with a cough
- Severe headaches or neck stiffness associated with the nasal drip
- Nasal drip that started soon after a head/facial trauma or sinus surgery
- Excessive nasal drip that occurs unpredictably or is embarrassing
TREATMENT FOR CLEAR NASAL DRIP
If you suffer with severe nasal drip or a runny nose that is accompanied by other nasal or sinus symptoms, the key to effective treatment is determining the underlying cause. Dr. Kuperan can use nasal endoscopy (looking inside the nose with a small camera) to better assess your nasal passages and sinuses.
For allergic causes of clear nasal drip, he may recommend a nasal steroid or antihistamine spray. If a sinus infection is the cause then he will treat the infection in order to resolve the nasal drip. Patients with persistent rhinitis can benefit from a minimally invasive procedure called ClariFix®.
In cases where a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak is suspected, a CT scan (x-ray) of the sinuses must be done to look for any small bony fractures or defects that are the source of the fluid leak. For excessive clear mucus production from hyperactive nerve stimulation, or vasomotor rhinitis, an anticholinergic nasal spray can be effective. If this does not work, a highly specialized procedure called a vidian neurectomy can be performed to transect the nerve responsible for the excessive mucus production. Dr. Kuperan will work with you to find the best solution for your nasal and sinus symptoms.
1 Wheatley LM, Togias A. Clinical practice. Allergic rhinitis. N Engl J Med. 2015;372(5):456-463. doi:10.1056/NEJMcp1412282
Dr. Arjuna Kuerpan has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.