Runny nose

Runny nose – a common symptom of allergy

A runny and irritated nose may cause problems in your daily life. It can also be a sign of allergy. A runny nose is one of several symptoms often seen in connection with allergic rhinitis, or hay fever. In addition to a red nose and runny clear mucus, it is common to be affected by nasal congestion and repeated sneezing. Many people also experience symptoms in the eyes, itching, watery and turn red.

When suffering from allergic rhinitis your nose will run more or less constantly. Starting out it is easily mistaken for a common cold but there are important differences. While the mucus of a runny nose due to a cold becomes thick and slow running after a while, allergic mucus is thin and clear. A cold will pass in about a week while hay fever may last for weeks and return at the same time every year. If you suffer from repeated or prolonged problems with a runny nose it is important for you to contact a doctor who can diagnose it.

Allergic rhinitis

Rhinitis, hay fever, is an inflammation that causes fluid production in your nose, sinuses and eyes. Allergic rhinitis may be seasonal or last all year round, and is most often caused by airborne allergens. The most common cause for a runny nose during certain times of the year is allergy to birch- or grass pollen. The troubles are worsened during the time of the pollen blooming, when many people with allergies, in addition to their usual symptoms, also feel tired and weak. All year round rhinitis (perennial rhinitis) is most often caused by allergies to pets or dust mites. 20% of the UK population are affected by allergic rhinitis.1 


Are there ways to stop an irritated and runny nose?

  • Avoid the allergens that trigger your nose run as much as possible.
  • Avoid tobacco smoke
  • Sleep with your head slightly raised, for example, by using an extra pillow. This will ease the pressure on the mucous membrane of the nose, and thereby your symptoms
  • Cleanse your nose with water or saline solution in order to clear the nasal tract from allergens
  • Try over-the-counter antihistamine tablets - they are usually effective on mild and brief symptoms of rhinitis
  • Nasal spray containing corticosteroid softens the inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane, and usually works well on nasal congestion. There is also nasal spray containing both antihistamines and corticosteroid similar medicines, which alleviate the symptoms of nose run even more effectively
  • If no medicines work on your allergy, it may be possible to go through immunotherapy treatment with injections. This method works best for people who are severely allergic to one singular substance



1. Date accessed November 2015.


UK/GEN/15/0057d                 Date of preparation: December 2015 

Icon quiz

Are you in control of your allergy?

Test yourself here and find out if your allergy is under control.

Test yourself here!

Icon nasal spray

Treat your allergy

Nobody should have to accept having a runny nose and feeling tired because of an allergy. There is help to be found

Read more here