I enjoy writing about experiences from my own life so that my tips may help others.
If you have been waking up in the morning with clear liquid constantly dripping out of your nose and making it difficult to breathe, this may be caused by a condition called nasal drip, also known as "rhinorrhea". It is also sometimes known as "rhinitis". Both terms simply mean having a runny nose.
The condition of rhinorrhea or rhinitis can often be caused by environmental factors such as air pollution and seasonal changes like cold weather, or it can be caused by an underlying medical condition that has not yet been diagnosed and treated.
One of the most common causes of this condition is actually connected to the thyroid gland and can be triggered when there are too many, or too few, hormones being produced and released from your thyroid gland.
In my experience, an increase in my thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) caused me to have an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) which led to nasal drip. In this article, I will go on to discuss further how the connection is relevant as well as offer some suggestions on how to manage and alleviate the symptoms.
What Is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a common health condition in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of certain hormones. Hypothyroidism can generally cause symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, aching muscles and joints, dry skin and hair loss.
But another, less-known, sign of hypothyroidism is nasal drip, which can annoying and bothersome!
For me, it was the experience of an almost constant stream of clear nasal fluid that didn't make me sneeze or feel unwell but kept me running for the box of tissues so that I could catch the drip. It seemed that no matter how much I blew my nose, the drip would turn back on minutes later, like a tap.
It was just a few days prior to the onset of my symptoms that my doctor confirmed (through blood work) that my TSH levels were high. This prompted me to research further as to whether the nasal drip could be connected to my thyroid problems.
What Exactly Is Nasal Drip (Rhinitis)?
Technically speaking, rhinitis is a group of inflammatory disorders that cause nasal symptoms, such as stuffy or runny nose and nasal discharge. Rhinitis can be caused by seasonal allergies or viral infections—or by something else entirely.
When you have rhinitis, your body releases more mucus than usual in response (for example) to an allergen or infection. The mucus travels through your nasal passages and drips out of your nose. Sometimes, rhinitis also causes sneezing. Rhinitis can be a nuisance—but it’s rarely serious enough to warrant medical attention.
According to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, nonallergic rhinitis involves a drippy nose with no apparent cause, which can also be accompanied by congestion or sneezing. There can be many causes and irritants, including hormone changes.
Specifically, hypothyroidism is listed on their website as one of the hormone changes; which are particularly prone to triggering rhinitis.
How Is Rhinitis Connected to Thyroid Problems?
A common misconception is that rhinitis and thyroid problems are not connected, but there are many studies to show that they are. In fact, up to 30% of people with thyroid problems also suffer from nasal drip.
A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information evaluated the relationship between hypothyroidism and rhinitis. This study was conducted to investigate whether hypothyroid patients with symptoms of rhinitis had the ability to recover by treatment. Furthermore, 25 patients were examined by the same doctor and each underwent a nasal endoscopy.
It was concluded that thyroid functions should be assessed in patients who have complaints of rhinitis symptoms, although it is also important that other routine examinations should be performed accordingly.
Treatment for Nasal Drip
Treatment for nasal drip can often depend on what is actually causing it, so it is important to get a doctor's recommendation. If tests prove that thyroid problems are, in fact, the underlying cause of your nasal drip, then getting proper treatment for the hypothyroidism will likely correct the issue. Getting the TSH hormone level back in check is usually the most effective way to relieve hypothyroidism symptoms.
However, there are also some great home remedies for rhinitis that you might find effective in the meantime. An easy way to treat nasal drip is to make some simple lifestyle changes, such as getting enough sleep and drinking plenty of water, which will increase hydration. You could also try nasal saline solutions or over-the-counter decongestants. The Mayo Clinic does warn against the overuse of nasal decongestants, however, because using such medications for a period of more than a few days at a time can potentially make symptoms worse.
If your symptoms are more bothersome or serious, then it's always a good idea to visit your doctor for proper analysis and treatment, because treatment for rhinitis depends entirely on what’s causing it. For example, bacterial or viral infections typically require antibiotics, while allergies often respond well to antihistamines.
In the case of thyroid problems, getting proper treatment from your doctor to get your thyroid hormones back in balance could be enough to eliminate your symptoms of nasal drip entirely and then you move on and start breathing more easily.
If you are experiencing rhinitis, especially for more than six weeks and have ruled out other causes, then it is possible that it could be caused by thyroid problems.
Take the first step to see your doctor and find out whether you should get tested for hypothyroidism by getting a blood test done which will check the levels of your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). By determining if you do have a thyroid problem, you can create a plan to manage your nasal drip as well as any other symptoms you may be experiencing.
- The relationship between hypothyroidism and rhinitis - National Center for Biotechnology Information
- Nonallergic rhinitis - Mayo Clinic
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2022 Louise