How to Get Rid of Clear Drainage From Your Nose

April 11, 2022

6 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

Although clear drainage from your nose is a typical symptom of viral infections or allergies, there are instances where a runny nose may be indicative of a more serious condition such as nasal polyps or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak.

In most cases, clear nasal drainage will clear up on its own, but if the symptom progresses longer than four weeks, it’s time to call a sinus specialist. After determining the cause of your runny nose, your sinus specialist will discuss long-term treatment options that could include everything from over-the-counter medications to a non-invasive surgical option like balloon sinuplasty.

In this article, Kaplan Sinus Relief covers what it could mean when your nose runs clear liquid and offers possible treatment options for your pesky runny nose.

What does it mean when your nose runs clear liquid?

Clear nasal drainage is caused by anything that irritates or inflames your nasal and/or sinus tissues including:

1. Common cold

There are more than 200 viruses that can cause colds or illnesses including coronaviruses, influenza, rhinoviruses, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Typical symptoms of the common cold include a runny nose, postnasal drip, sore throat, and a cough. These symptoms will generally clear up on their own with little to no intervention.

In some cases, the inflammation caused by the virus allows fluid to build up in the sinuses leading to a sinus infection. One way to tell if you’ve developed a sinus infection is by checking your mucus color. If your snot goes from clear and runny to yellow or green and sticky, you may want to be checked for a sinus infection.

Continue reading: Are sinus infections contagious?

2. Allergic rhinitis

The symptoms of an infection are often similar to those associated with allergic rhinitis, also known as allergies, making it hard to tell the difference. However, symptoms of allergies usually feature clear drainage from your nose along with itchy eyes, nose, or skin. Allergies can either be seasonal or year-round depending on what you are allergic to.

To treat allergies, your sinus doctor will typically start with an allergy test followed by a treatment plan that could include nasal steroid sprays to help with the clear mucus draining from your nose, allergy shots, or balloon sinuplasty for chronic allergy relief as a permanent solution.

3. Nonallergic rhinitis

Nonallergic rhinitis refers to a chronically runny nose that has no clear reason behind it. This form of rhinitis does not include your immune system like allergic rhinitis or the common cold does. Nonallergic rhinitis could be a result of triggers such as:

  • Weather changes
  • Exercise
  • Odors or irritants
  • Medications
  • Pregnancy
  • Sleep apnea
  • Eating spicy foods
  • Acid reflux
  • Pollution or smoke

Symptoms of nonallergic rhinitis tend to last year-round and may be a sign of conditions such as nasal polyps, chronic sinusitis, or the overuse of nasal decongestants known as rebound congestion.

Treatment for clear drainage from your nose caused by nonallergic rhinitis will depend on what your sinus doctor finds during an examination.

4. Nasal polyps

Chronic inflammation in your sinus or nasal cavities can lead to a condition called nasal polyps. Nasal polyps are painless growths in your nose or sinuses that can obstruct airflow and drainage. One common symptom of nasal polyps is a consistently runny nose.

Treatment for mild cases of nasal polyps can include nasal corticosteroids or, for a more long-term solution, your sinus doctor may suggest endoscopic sinus surgery.

5. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak

Having a runny nose with clear mucus is typically harmless, except when you’re actually dripping CSF. Before panicking, keep in mind that CSF is rare and is mostly a concern for individuals who have suffered some type of head or facial trauma.

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is the clear liquid around your brain and spinal cord. When you suffer a head or facial injury, the membrane containing your CSF can be damaged which allows CSF to leak into your nostrils and drip out of your nose similar to clear mucus drainage. A cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak typically only affects one nostril whereas any of the above conditions affect both.

If this is the case, you will likely have a CT scan done to help identify the source of the leak. Depending on the severity of the damage, the leak can be treated with an anticholinergic nasal spray, or, in more severe cases, you may require surgery.

How do you get rid of clear nasal drainage?

If you’ve been experiencing clear drainage from your nose or postnasal drip symptoms, like raspy speech or mucus in the throat that won’t go away, for more than 12 weeks or you start to notice green or yellow mucus, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your sinus specialist. Together, you and your doctor can come up with the best course of action that could include over-the-counter medications or nasal sprays, or you may opt for more permanent treatment options including:

Balloon sinuplasty

Balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive, quick sinus relief procedure that can help patients who suffer from clear nasal drainage resulting from conditions like chronic infections, allergies, or chronic cough. The in-office procedure uses 3D mapping to precisely locate the affected sinus area. Once the area has been identified, your doctor will gently insert and inflate a balloon to reshape the sinuses, restoring proper drainage.

Although the balloon sinuplasty procedure is low-risk and pain-free, some patients opt for IV sedation as a way to help them feel more relaxed. If you’re feeling nervous about the procedure, you can ask your provider if this is an option for you.

Suffering from clear nasal drip? Schedule an appointment with Kaplan Sinus Relief for a lasting solution!

There are countless reasons you could be experiencing clear drainage from your nose. If you’re at all concerned about your runny nose or it’s stuck around for longer than 12 weeks, we recommend scheduling an appointment with Kaplan Sinus Relief.

Kaplan Sinus Relief is Houston’s premier provider of the balloon sinuplasty procedure and the only office in America to offer the Targeted Guided Surgery (TGS) navigation system — an augmented reality that increases the precision, quickness, and efficiency of balloon sinuplasty. 

We have helped more than 5,000 patients clear their chronic sinus issues for good and are here to help you do the same. Call Kaplan Sinus Relief at 713-766-1818 or schedule an appointment online today!

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