Q. I get runny nose whenever I sleep in a cold environment. Why?

Answered by
Dr. B Vageesh Padiyar
and medically reviewed by Dr. Vinodhini. J
This is a premium question & answer published on Sep 02, 2020

Hello doctor,

I am 22 years old. I get runny nose almost every time I sleep in a fan on or in an AC room. If you say it is due to change of temperature but it is very often even with a very slight change in temperature I get a runny nose which lasts a day or even the next day. Can you please help me what the problem with me is?



Welcome to

The most probable reason over here could be what we call as vasomotor rhinitis. The cascade of events is explained in a very simple manner below even though it is not as simple as it looks.

Exposure to dust (or any irritative substance like cold air that your body is hypersensitive to) will initially initiate reflexes such as sneezing to remove the offending agent out but if this fails, mucosal cells in you nose start to hyperfunction producing loads of mucus to trap dust (owing to its sticky nature), this mucus has nowhere to go other than either being blown out of due to mucociliary activity gets pushed into the throat, thereby entering into a new zone. The throat initially reacts by activating cough impulses to push out the mucus, but if that fails, a local inflammation around the throat starts, which often leads to symptoms such as a feeling of a lump in the throat and repeated feeling to clear the throat.

I know the problem might be there for a long time, but I am not sure if you have followed any specific treatment chart, which is usually recommended before we consider any patient for surgery. This treatment chart is custom made according to your symptoms and does follow the guidelines to treat vasomotor rhinitis.

The following things can be considered:

1. Avoid getting directly exposed to cold currents of AC or fan air as much as possible. Avoid getting exposed to a sudden change in temperature from a colder room to a hotter environment outside or vice versa. This is the most important thing you should be following failing which, no treatment will bring any relief.

2. Duonase nasal spray (Azelastine Hydrochloride and Fluticasone propionate) two puffs two times a day in both nostrils for three months (do not inhale while you spray the drug).

3 Steam inhalations three to four times a day.

4. Saltwater gargles at 8 to 10 times a day for one month.

5. Do not smoke or consume alcohol as it slows down mucociliary clearance mechanisms.

All precautionary measures have to be followed strictly for maximum relief otherwise medications will not be useful on long term.

Surgery can be considered (if above medications and precautionary measures do not give any relief), but there is a catch to it. The symptoms might come back sometimes even on a higher scale after a brief relief following surgery if the precautionary measures post-surgery are not followed. Ideally speaking in a nutshell, I again an emphasis preventing any irritative substance from entering the nose and throat, thereby triggering an allergic cascade of events and reproducing the symptoms you have mentioned above. I hope this helps.

Thank you doctor,

But I did not have followed any medications so far also, it is only my nose and throat is completely fine.



Welcome back to

You can follow the medicines and precautions advised. It will definitely help you to get relief from the symptoms.

Thank you doctor,

I could not find the prescription yet.



Welcome back to

I have mentioned the drugs in the messaged earlier. We do not have a facility on the chat platform to send a prescription.

Duonase nasal spray is available over the counter in any pharmacy.

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