Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

About Runny Nose When Eating

You may have a runny nose for many reasons, including allergies and irritants, infections, common cold, flu, and other conditions. Rhinitis is the correct medical term for describing a stuffy or a runny nose. Rhinitis comprises a host of symptoms such as a runny nose, congestion, nasal itch, postnasal drip, and sneezing. Conditions that can be categorized as an inflammation of the nasal passage can be broadly classified as rhinitis. What may appear to be strange is that some people often have a runny nose while having food. Many people often find that while eating certain types of foods, their nose starts running. It is particularly associated with having spicy foods, dairy or with consuming alcohol. While many mistake it as an allergic reaction to the food, it is actually a non-allergic condition. It is a condition known as gustatory rhinitis. So what is gustatory rhinitis and how do you deal with it?

What is Gustatory Rhinitis?

What is Gustatory Rhinitis?

The term rhinitis is usually associated with hay fever. However, rhinitis actually classifies a variety of sinus issues, both allergic and non-allergic. Gustatory rhinitis is a medical term that is used to describe a food-related runny nose and is caused by an overreaction of the body's vagal nerve in the nervous system. The overreaction of this nerve in the person having the particular food causes nasal drip, runny nose, and sometimes even congestion. Gustatory rhinitis is actually a non-immunological reaction to food. Stimulated nerves in your sinuses is actually what produces this reflex.

The nasal drip is generally clear in color. Hot and spicy foods usually serve as a trigger, though any food can potentially trigger off the symptoms of gustatory rhinitis. Sometimes, people have such an aggravated case of a runny nose that it starts interfering with your day-to-day life and leaves you unable to eat out. It is possible for both adults and children to get affected by gustatory rhinitis or getting runny nose when eating, though it is more common in people who suffer from hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Even people who smoke are more prone to get gustatory rhinitis.

Symptoms of Gustatory Rhinitis

Apart from having a runny nose while eating, some of the other symptoms of gustatory rhinitis include:

  • Sneezing
  • Congestion or stuffiness
  • Clear discharge from the nose
  • Postnasal drip
  • Itchy nose
  • Sore throat

Which Foods Cause Gustatory Rhinitis?

This kind of rhinitis is generally caused by having hot and spicy foods. However, if you suffer from gustatory rhinitis, then basically any food can trigger your symptoms of getting runny nose when eating, which can include meat to even fresh vegetables.

Even people who do not have an allergic reaction to dairy may also experience gustatory rhinitis. They might experience a runny nose when they drink milk or have yogurt.
Alcohol is also a trigger for many allergy sufferers.

Preservatives in foods along with some additives may also flare up the symptoms of gustatory rhinitis.

Prevention & Treatment of Gustatory Rhinitis or Runny Nose When Eating

It is possible to prevent the occurrence of a runny nose while eating if you simply avoid the foods and drinks that cause a flare up in the first place. If you love spicy food and want to continue having it, then many doctors recommended the use of a nasal spray before eating. However, it's been shown that using a nasal drop will actually make your nose run even more and does not help in any way.

As this condition is not caused by a histamine response, taking antihistamines will also not help you in treating gustatory rhinitis or runny nose when eating.

Gustatory rhinitis is known to be treated effectively only with mucolytic drugs and anticholinergic agents. As the cause of each person's symptoms is unique, the treatment is also unique and determined by a doctor.

If you find your condition to be particularly bothersome and embarrassing, then you should consult an otolaryngology specialist to determine the best treatment for gustatory rhinitis.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: May 16, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We'll help you live each day to the healthiest