What Causes Smelly Mucus In Nose & Remedies To Get Rid Of It?

Smelly mucus in the nose is not a rare condition as many people complain of foul odor in their nose. Sinus infection is the most prominent reason for this smelly mucus in nose. However, there are also many other causes for this condition. Let us go through the article and know about the causes of smelly mucus in nose and remedies ways to get rid of it.

What Causes Smelly Mucus In Nose?

What Causes Smelly Mucus In Nose?


Many people suffer from sinusitis throughout the world. This condition is the inflammation or swelling of the paranasal sinuses, situated around the nose. These Paranasal sinuses are air-filled cavities or spaces and there are 4 pairs of paranasal sinuses surrounding the nose. These are the maxillary sinuses (Situated below the eyes), frontal sinuses (situated above the eyes), sphenoidal sinuses (situated behind the eyeballs) and ethmoidal sinuses (Situated between the eyes). Sinusitis has symptoms like smelly mucus in nose, a headache (mainly in the forehead and frontal region), pain and tenderness when pressed over the sinuses, feeling feverish, feeling of congestion or stuffiness in the nose, soreness in the throat, cough, discharge containing pus from the nose (In case there is a bacterial infection). Sinusitis may be diagnosed by your physician, through tests like the X-ray of paranasal sinuses or CT head. Even, eosinophil count may be done to detect if you have any allergies that might be causing Sinusitis.

Tonsillitis-Tonsil Stones:

One more possible cause of smelly mucus in nose, is Tonisllitis. This is the inflammation of the tonsils. Tonsils are the oval-shaped pads of tissues present at the back of the throat. This condition is often caused by infection with a common virus. Bacterial infection may also sometimes cause the swelling of tonsil. Inflammation may also involve other areas of the back of the throat. These areas include the adenoids and the lingual tonsils. There are several variations of tonsillitis, and they are, acute, recurrent and chronic tonsillitis. Symptoms of tonsillitis include swollen tonsils, sore throats and difficulty swallowing. There may also be symptoms of tender lymph nodes on the sides of the neck.

Proper treatment depends on the underlying cause of the infection. Surgery may be prescribed when bacterial tonsillitis occur frequently or tonsillitis fails to respond to other treatment options, or when the condition leads to other serious complications.


Rhinitis can also be reason for smelly mucus in nose. This condition is the inflammation or swelling of the nose. Bacterial and viral infections and also allergies can cause Rhinitis. It is known as allergic rhinitis if it is caused due to allergies. Smelly mucus in nose, runny nose, sneezing, nasal stuffiness or congestion, fever of low grade, cough, dripping off the mucus into the throat, watering of eyes (especially if it is allergic rhinitis); etc. are some of the symptoms of Rhinitis. The doctor may prescribe you appropriate antibiotics of the condition. You might require testing for eosinophil count, if your doctor suspects the cause behind Rhinitis is allergies. Eosinophil count is usually raised in a person having allergies.

Nasal Polyps:

Nasal polyps too could play a role behind smelly mucus in nose. These are soft and painless, noncancerous growths on the lining of the nasal passage. Chronic inflammation due to asthma, recurring infection, allergies and sensitivity to the drug or some immune disorders may result in Nasal polyps. Small nasal polyps are asymptomatic, while large growths or group of nasal polyps can lead to breathing problems because of blocked nasal passage, some people may also experience loss of smell along with frequent infections. Nasal polyps can affect anyone; though it is very common in adults.

Chronic sinusits with nasal polyps can cause runny nose, reduced sense of smell, annoying snoring, post nasal drip, pain in the upper teeth, facial pain and severe headache. Your doctor may prescribe you medication to shrink or eliminate the nasal polyps. However, surgery may also be required sometimes to remove the polyps. It must be noted that nasal polyps may often return after successive treatments.

Post Nasal Drip:

Smelly mucus in nose could also be due to post nasal drip. Here there is an excess production of mucus in the nose and it might pass into the throat and you may feel like having constant mucus in the throat. Symptoms of Post nasal drip include smelly mucus in the nose, mucus accumulation feeling in the throat, the need to clear the throat constantly so as to get rid of mucus, soreness in the throat, a nighttime cough, bad breath or Halitosis. To diagnose the condition, your doctor will take a detailed history and do the physical examination.


When you are asleep, your mouth produces less saliva. Snoring worsen this situation by causing excessive dryness of the tongue, throat and palate. This in turn creates an enabling environment for the reproduction of bacteria. The accumulation of sulfur compounds is what causes the bad breath and a foul odor when you wake up. Snoring can be treated or managed at home by way of using a humidifier that helps in keeping the humidity level down, avoiding alcohol, depressants before bed and regular exercise to remain fit.

Other Causes: Some other causes of smelly mucus in nose could be dental caries or tooth decay, improper oral health, etc.

Remedies To Get Rid Of Smelly Mucus In Nose?

Once the underlying cause of smelly mucus in nose is known, your doctor will prescribe you with medications and antibiotic. Antibiotics may be prescribed if your doctor suspects you are having a bacterial infection causing the smelly mucus in the nose. In rare cases you may require to undergo surgery to allow for adequate drainage from the nose. Now, let us talk about some other remedies to get rid of smelly mucus in nose.

Nasal Decongestant Drops:

There are lots of nasal decongestant drops available in chemist store and they contain drugs like oxymetazoline or xylometazoline. You can put two drops of this nasal drop into each nostril, at least 2 to 3 times in a day to get relief from nasal congestion and smelly mucus in nose.

Nasal Sprays:

If you have allergic rhinitis that might be causing smelly mucus in nose, your doctor might prescribe you various nasal sprays that contains steroids such as budesonide or antihistaminics like azelastine. You have to spray them in the nostrils to the lateral walls or to the sides. Be very careful to avoid exposure of spray to the eyes.

Drink Plenty Of Water:

In order to fight any infection, one needs adequate hydration. Adequate hydration also helps in clearing smelly mucus in nose. So, try to drink at least 10 to 12 glasses of water daily.

Drink Warm Liquids:

In case you suffer from conditions like sinusitis, rhinitis and postnasal drip, you need to drink warm liquids as this provides very fair relief from all these conditions. Drink warm liquids like coffee, tea, warm tomato soup, etc. Even your throat will feel good after drinking them and you can get rid of smelly mucus in nose due to sinusitis, rhinitis etc.

Eucalyptus Oil:

Eucalyptus oil could be a great remedy to get rid of smelly mucus in nose. You can add this oil to the hot water and inhale the hot vapors. It is very much effective.

Ginger Pepper Basil Leaf Tea:

One more effective way to get rid of smelly mucus in nose is ginger, pepper, and basil leaf tea. You can drink this tea twice a day to have good relief. For preparing this tea, you need to take half a teaspoon of peppercorns and crush them coarsely. Add a half inch of ginger to it and crush it well. Also add 10 to 15 tulsi leaves and crush it. Add this mixture to a glass of water and boil it on a slow flame for about 5 minutes until the water reduces down to 3/4th of a cup. Then, strain the liquid and add some honey to it for taste and drink.

Breathing Exercise:

Breathing exercises such as Pranayam are very beneficial in enhancing your immunity levels and help in getting rid of respiratory infections. These exercises also help in alleviating symptoms of allergic rhinitis that might be causing smelly mucus in the nose. You can do Pranayama, like Kapalbhati Pranayam, Bhastrika Pranayam, Aanulom Vilom Pranayam etc.

Use Warm Pads:

Some people find that applying warm pads on their nose, eyes and cheeks eases the pain and swelling felt from sinusitis. Moreover, keeping your head elevated while you sleep, can also help in promoting drainage and prevents that stuffy feeling you get when you get up.

Nasal Lavage:

You can use a nasal lavage for washing out your sinuses and preventing smelly mucus in nose. Pre-filled containers like Sinus Rinse can be purchased from your local pharmacy, or you can make use of a bulb syringe and fill it with sterile and filtered water to which you need to mix in 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of baking soda.

Tilt your head to the side over a sink and squeeze the solution into your upper nostril. The liquid will flow via your nasal passages and out your other nostril or via your mouth. Repeat this on the other side. Once you have finished, rinse the irrigation device with contaminant-free water and allow it to air-dry.

Healthy Diet:

Eating healthy diet is very much important as it enhances immunity and plays a crucial role in getting rid of respiratory infections as well. Add lots of fruits that are loaded with Vitamin C, like oranges, limes, etc. This will help you get rid of smelly mucus in nose. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables and also add lots of green leafy vegetables and salads to your meal.

Avoid Allergens:

Conditions such as Sinusitis, Rhinitis and Postnasal drip are caused or aggravated by allergens. So, avoid all possible allergens such as dust, pollen from flowers, pet fur, mites, animal dander, etc. Also avoid eating foods which you are allergic to. By doing this you can get rid of smelly mucus in nose caused by allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, or postnasal drip.


We hope you now know about all the possible causes of smelly mucus in nose and also some of the ways to get rid of it. You can now treat your illness at home; however, be sure you take lots of rest so as to allow your body to recover. Also keep it noted, in case your condition is not getting resolved with home remedies or in case you suspect the smelly mucus in the nose can be due to a bacterial infection, then show your doctor immediately and get the best possible treatments for your condition. Do not delay visiting your doctor, who can diagnose your condition and prescribe you the appropriate treatment.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 26, 2022

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