Runner blowing her nose

Nasal Drainage

Nasal drainage, or more commonly known as a runny nose, happens to everyone. It results from excess nasal mucus production and often leads to discharge from the nostrils that can range from a clear fluid to thick mucus. Sometimes, it can also run down the back of your throat and cause irritation. 

There are many causes to a runny nose—from irritants to inflammation. Knowing the cause can help you determine whether or not you should see a doctor, and what type of treatment is needed.

Some of the most common culprits include:

  • Allergies
  • Infections (think: common cold, the flu)
  • Sinus infections
  • Nonallergic rhinitis/vasomotor rhinitis (Clear drainage from both nostrils that is due to overactive nasal glands. This can be associated with nasal congestion and/or sneezing. Often, the drainage is associated with changes in temperature, activity, or eating and becomes more common with age.)

Less common, but other possible causes include:


For most patients, a runny nose will clear up on its own. However, it can be a sign of a more serious problem, so we advise you call your primary care doctor if:

  • Your symptoms have lasted longer than 10 days
  • Your nasal discharge is yellow and/or green, and is accompanied by sinus pain or a fever
  • You have a high fever
  • There is blood in your nasal discharge or a persistent clear discharge after a head injury

To make an appointment, request one online or call us today at 617-573-3030.