Great question! I'm sure we've all wondered this from time to time.
The fancy medical term for this condition is "gustatory rhinitis." "Gustatory" means "related to eating," and "rhinitis" just means "runny nose."
Gustatory rhinitis has nothing to do with allergies, which also can cause a runny nose. Gustatory rhinitis is triggered by eating hot or spicy foods. One study reported about 70% of test subjects said they'd experienced at least one episode of a runny nose while eating. Not surprisingly, hot chili peppers ranked as the biggest trigger for gustatory rhinitis.
It's unclear why certain foods cause our nose to run when we eat, however. One study cited the stimulation of "atropine-inhibitable muscarinic receptors" as the cause. But that's hard to explain in a short answer like this.
Since gustatory rhinitis is a benign condition (which means it isn’t life-threatening), it's doubtful many healthcare practitioners would recommend a medical treatment for the symptoms. However, it is possible to treat the condition with atropine nasal spray before eating.
I recommend simply grabbing a tissue before enjoying your favorite spicy food next time.
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