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Answers From Experts & Organizations (1)

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A.
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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My nose runs regardless of what type of food I eat.  I don't eat spicy food, so that can't be the cause.  It happens every time I eat anything, breakfast, lunch, dinner and in between. 

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As the person previous to me said, my nose runs everytime I eat also.  It certainly runs more when I eat spicy food, but as I am typing I am munching on a slice of lemon loaf from Starbuck's.  There is no spice to this at all.  My nose is running like a sieve.  It is quite annoying as I can't eat out with friends without bringing a bunch of tissue.  Any thoughts?

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Ditto on this happening no matter what I eat. My wife and I both started this recently and it's every day. Has nothing to do with hot or spicy. This morning I had a bowl of cold cereal, and it started from the first bite or two. Lasts a short while, then stops.

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It probably starts as the result of an allergic reaction to a common food, but quickly generalises to other/all foods through the process of classical conditioning (see Pavlov's Dogs as an example). 


It is therefore likely you need to find and eliminated that food and give it time till your body learns how to eat without a subsequent runny nose. Using medications of some sort to dry the nasal cavity would assist this process, but you need to maintain the absence of the allergen. 

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