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4 Top Causes of Chronic Sniffles

Find out what causes a persistent runny or stuffy nose, and how you can treat it.

By
Sanaz Majd, MD,
December 12, 2013
Episode #079

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It’s that time of the year again, when the sounds of snot seem to echo throughout all public (and many private) spaces.  It’s cold and flu season, a season that brings Kleenex skyrocketing sales each year, no doubt.  The cold weather seems to prompt many of us to carry a box of tissues with us everywhere we go, whether or not we are plagued with the actual cold and flu virus.

That’s because the cold and flu virus isn’t the only cause of nasal symptoms.  In fact, some of us may even suffer year-round with “rhinitis,” the fancy doctor lingo used to describe the sniffles.  It may seem benign enough, but when the runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, and/or nasal itching become a daily battle, it can be quite a nuisance.

The cold and flu virus typically lasts about 7-10 days.  So if your nose is running a lot longer than that, it’s time to re-examine the situation and find out if there is possibly something else that can be causing your nose to run this marathon.

Here are 4 possible culprits of rhinitis:

Culprit #1: Allergies

By far one of the top causes of the chronic sniffles is allergies, or what doctors think they so cleverly call “allergic rhinitis.”  Up to one third of adults suffer from this, and it can either be seasonal or year-round.  Common triggers are in the environment (not in food), and include pollen, dust, grass, trees, and mold.

There are two mainstays of treatment for this.  First, over-the-counter long-acting antihistamines, such as loratidine and cetirizine, work to dry up the runs.  And second, prescription nasal sprays work to decrease the inflammation in the back of the nose and eventually stop the drip down the other end towards the throat.  This helps with the chronic sore throat and allergic cough that some people experience because of allergic rhinitis.

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