When Your Nose Runs After Eating

You eat a hot meal or spicy food and you start getting a runny nose and congestion.

Does your nose run, swell, or feel stuffy after eating? Some people get a stuffy nose every time they eat food. We call it “after eating swollen nose” or “post gustatory rhinitis,” and it’s very common.

What can happen is that you go out and eat a hot meal, or you’re eating spicy food at home, and you start getting a runny nose and congestion, to the point where you have to blow your nose.

Here’s what’s going on at that time and what ENT Consultants of East Tennessee can do to help that.

Why Does Eating Cause a Runny Nose?

When people have this problem specifically related to eating, the first cause we investigate is allergies, but we find that the person has usually already tried an allergy medicine to no avail.

“Vasomotor rhinitis,” the term we use for the nose’s reaction to hot or spicy food and other allergens — such as alcohol, perfume, cigarette smoke, and changes in the weather — is to blame.

Just eating or a temperature change can trigger the constriction or dilatation of blood vessels in the nose, but what causes this triggering is one particular nerve. When that nerve is overly excited, it sends a signal to the mucus glands inside the nose that stimulates them. The problem with this is that it’s stimulating them at the wrong time.

When Post Gustatory Rhinitis Becomes a Problem

The symptoms we expect to see with post gustatory rhinitis can include some of the following:

  • A clear, watery, runny nose
  • A stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Dripping nose
  • Throat clearing – from the dripping nose
  • Itchy, watery eyes

We see these reactions more as people age, which can lead to further medical problems.

If you have already tried an allergy medication and it hasn’t helped, your next step is to see an ENT doctor to determine the cause and treat it effectively.

Book an allergy test

Permanent Treatment for a Runny Nose from Hot or Spicy Food

ENT Consultants of East Tennessee treats post gustatory rhinitis with a device that is inserted into the nose and freezes the nerve responsible for the rhinitis.

This device gets to a very cold temperature, and we slip it into the nose, past some nasal bones, and freeze the nerve so that its signal won’t be transmitted as strongly across the nerve thereafter.

The best thing about this treatment is that it’s permanent. Although the data on this isn’t fully determined due to it being a newer treatment, the long-term results that we have so far are very, very encouraging.

Find an ENT Consultant in East Tennessee

There’s so much that an ENT physician can do to help people with nasal reactions to allergies. Whether you react to pollen, dust mites, mold, animal dander, or something else, ENT Consultants of East Tennessee can help find the cause and treat it.

Schedule an allergy testing consultation with us today so that you can look forward to breathing easily again and not having to worry about sniffling or breathing freely at night.

Choose the ENT center closest to you for your booking – we have two in Knoxville and one in Lenoir City. We look forward to helping you enjoy eating again.

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Nicholas J. Panella, M.D.

Growing up in Knoxville, Nicholas went to Webb High School. While no day is the same, as he is constantly managing different projects as a general ENT, his practice specializes in head and neck cancer. The job can be difficult; however, he loves to work alongside a wonderful group of doctors and providers who all want to work together to help ensure patients have the best possible outcome. Everyone is so supportive of each other and loves to bring new techniques and surgical options to the East TN area. Outside of work, he dedicates his time to his wife and two young kids. They enjoy spending time on the lake, fishing, mountain biking, and snowboarding. He is also involved with his local church and the Emerald Youth Foundation

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