Reasons Why You Have a Runny or Drippy Nose

by lydia on March 10, 2012

Ever since I can remember I have had sinus issues. I can remember always blowing my nose, being stuffy or having a runny drippy nose in winter. In my adult years I suffered from chronic sinusitis. During my 3rd pregnancy I had a sinus infection the entire time and I had no idea that was what it was. Once I learned more about sinus infections, I learned how to treat and prevent them both through diet, supplements and regular nasal cleansing. Whenever I feel a sinus infection start to come on, I deal with it right away and it never takes hold. All that shared, my body still TRIES to get sinus infections. I no longer have a stuffy nose issue, or need to constantly blow my nose, but I have a runny drippy nose. Especially while I am eating, that fact alone clues me in to the fact that is much more than just a simple issue. So I decided to figure out what might be holding me up with further healing from these sinus maladies. And here is what I have learned…

A runny or drippy nose can actually be a sign of chronic sinusitis. Sinusitis can actually be traced to the digestive system. (ah, isn’t it amazing how much of our health depends on good healthy digestion, Hippocrates had it right). There are several events that may trigger the body to have an increased susceptibility to infection. (Get this – and I have all of these or did to some degree until I started really healing my body). One, is low stomach acid  – this causes maldigestion of proteins. Another is a deficiency in pancreatic enzymes, also causing a maldigestion of our foods. These maldigested foods can wreak havoc on the gut – undigested foods can putrefy and cause damage to the gut lining over time, as well as alter our internal ecosystem and gut flora. When the gut flora is not in good repair, the absorptive ability of the intestinal mucous membranes become impaired and your gut becomes permeable. Fascinating, isn’t it?! (photo credit)

So, over time the villi in the intestines become inflamed and irritated by the large macromolecules of the improperly digested food, due to lack of HCL and enzymes (and quite possibly improper chewing and not eating in a relaxed state). The villi are the large absorptive surfaces of the intestinal tract, they look like little fingers that line the gut. So these undigested molecules of food, especially proteins, start to penetrate the intestinal mucous membrane. The villi become damaged and even impaired, so instead of long flowy fingers they turn into little nubs. When this occurs the body can no longer defend against invaders and pathogens, thereby allowing them to get into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, the immune system assumes that they are foreign to the body and begins to produce antibodies against them. It is this reaction that produces the symptoms of allergies that can cause asthma or a stuffy nose. Who knew that the issues in your nose and lungs had to do with what is going on in your intestines? Remember, our gut houses the majority of our immune system. It is wise to always look to the gut when dealing with immune responses.

Basically, sinus infections are a reflection of what is going wrong in both the small intestines as well as the sinuses themselves. A chronic fungal infection in the gut can very well be related to chronic sinus infections. So, that tells me, that my gut health was very poor during that long year of chronic sinus infections, and likely my son’s is now too because of it (he actually has very bad gas and trouble gaining any weight, any surprise? But more about him later). It is all evident to me, that my gut health has greatly improved since I no longer get sinus infections like I once did. However, I clearly need to do so more healing.  Often times with chronic sinus infections people take antibiotics (I never did, thankfully), this only leads to further gut/intestinal dysbiosis, namely in the small intestine. If you read my post the other day, ‘What’s Going On In My World‘, you may recall me talking about my small intestines being a trouble spot for me. This all makes a lot of sense to me now as I correlate the past sinus issues to seeing that my internal terrain is not quite up to par. Part of the reason I believe that I have seen some healing is due to all the enzyme rich fermented foods I eat. Now that I am taking hydrochloric acid regularly, I hope to stop any further dysbiosis from occurring. And in the meantime, I plan to repair my poor damaged villi by healing my gut through foods and the GAPS protocol (as well as continuing on with taking l-glutamine).

That shared, this is only one explanation as to why you may have a runny, drippy, unhappy nose. It is also possible that a runny nose could be signs of an upper respiratory infection, which again all leads back to the health of your ultimate immune system housed right inside your gut (not your stomach, but your intestinal tract which is where your ‘gut’ or abdominal area is on your body). There are times when these things stem from structural issues, but for the most part attending to your digestive tract, proper digesting of foods and eating enough enzyme rich foods can go a long way to resolving them.

With all that explained, by all means use preventative measures such as a Neti-Pot to help deal with possible sinus infections or to help keep the nasal passages clean and irrigated. Even putting probiotics and other helpful herbal solutions can be of benefit to cleansing the sinus cavity of pathogens and bacteria. Since the cavities are rather large and subject very easily to debris, dander and pathogens, it’s wise to assist them and keep them well irrigated. If you are prone to any kind of sinus maladies, it would be wise to purchase a neti-pot and use it often. Here is the one I use – the Himalayan Institute’s Neti-pot;

(sources for this article – ‘Gut & Psychology Syndrome’ by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, and ‘Signs & Symptoms Analysis From a Functional Perspective: A Question by Question Guide.’ Dicken Weatherby)


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Starlene March 10, 2012 at 11:22 pm

I used to have a lot of nasal problems, sneezing, runny nose, swollen nasal passages which made it difficult to sleep since I cannot sleep with my mouth open, and I had asthma. I started on GAPS, and since I’d known for about twenty years (since I carried my youngest son) that dairy is a problem for me, I went off dairy products (except for butter). I did full GAPS for several months, then intro and went off butter also for six weeks during intro. When I tried to reintroduce, my sinuses clogged up and it was AWFUL to experience. When it was happening all the time I didn’t realize how annoying it was since it was “normal” for me. After 10 months on GAPS I was able to wean down off my steroid inhaler, Flovent, which I’d been on for about eight years. I have only had to use my rescue inhaler one time since September 2011. I still have work to do healing-wise also but for now I’m keeping dairy out of my diet (except butter). I have also used the neti pot over the years and it really helped during allergy season. OH, that’s the other thing. I no longer have allergies which is so wonderful, I thought I would go through that for the rest of my life. It was hard for me to give up dairy… we even had our own dairy goats. :-( So very interesting how our digestive system makes such an impact on everything! Thanks for the helpful information on this topic.

lydia March 11, 2012 at 9:12 am

Great to hear your successes! I too no longer have seasonal allergies – mine were always worse in the fall. I remember the year I was pregant with a constant sinus infection I had pretty bad spring allergies (white pine kicked my butt that year). So glad you could get off inhalers, I did too! I couldn’t believe asthma was so related to digestive health………here’s to more and deeper healing!

Jo-Lynne {Musings of a Housewife} March 11, 2012 at 7:33 am

As you know, I have a constantly drippy nose. It drives me NUTS. Its a relatively new development, and I do not get sinus infections very often (although I used to a lot) so I don’t know what is up. I know my digestive system is compromised, and I’m working on that, and I suppose that is the cause of this issue. It IS embarrassing. It just starts dripping at the most inopportune times. Boo.

Susan March 18, 2012 at 1:18 pm

I dont know what to say. This blog is fantastic. Thats not really a really huge statement, but its all I could come up with after reading this. You know so much about this subject. So much so that you made me want to learn more about it. Your blog is my stepping stone, my friend. Thanks for the heads up on this subject.

Manas April 6, 2013 at 7:17 am

I am having running nose from last year. I had several medicine’and’nosal drops but it was not cured. I am not having any headche,bodyche but some time cough.

Please tell me something..

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