ZocdocAnswersWhy does my nose run on one side when I eat?

Question

Why does my nose run on one side when I eat?

I am a 38 year old woman who has had this odd thing happen for a few years now. I'm not eating spicy food, and I don't have a cold. But sometimes when I am eating something the left side of my nose will start running. It will only do it once, and then not again. Usually when I haven't eaten for awhile, and then it will do it. It was a little odd to me, because it is just one side and I don't have any other explanation for it. I don't take anything for it and I just deal with it when it happens. It's funny and if I am with someone I know its no big deal. If I was with strangers it might be a little embarassing. I don't know if it is some genetic quirk or something I should be concerned about.

Answer

This is a very interesting question, and I am afraid that it illustrates some of the pitfalls of answering questions over the internet instead of in person: there is nothing that is ever as good as a physical exam and the ability to ask further questions. Briefly, I would be interested in knowing if you have any allergies that you are aware of, and if you have any other symptoms (such as anosmia, or the inability to smell), and if this is getting better/worse. If the answer is that it is always just the one side, you have no allergies and no other symptoms, than it is likely just an anatomic variation or some odd quirk that happens. As your nose and sinuses are so intimately connected to the rest of your upper aerodigestive tract, it is possible that some of the movements that you make while chewing improve the drainage of your sinuses on that one side. So when you chew, all of the mucus that has been waiting all day to drain finally has a chance and makes a break for it. Unfortunately, it is impossible to say without a physical exam, and a quick endoscopy of your sinus (quite quick and painless, performed in the office of any otolaryngology-head and neck surgeon) would likely be the best --and possibly, only-- way to completely explain your symptoms. Please see an ENT for a complete answer, if there is one.

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