Why does your nose run when you are crying?

You may have heard the old joke: If your nose is running and your feet smell, you must be upside down! But why does your nose run? Read on to find out the whole story

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Image courtesy: Freepik

No matter what’s causing your tears – happiness, sadness, pain – it’s inevitable that a good cry will leave you with a runny nose. We’ve all been in the same sobbing, sniffly place at one time or another. As it turns out, thanks to biology, there’s no way to stop it from happening.

You can get a runny nose (rhinorrhea) for a lot of reasons.

In most cases, it’s because of mucus build-up in your nasal cavity or sinuses due to a trigger or allergen. Your nose then fills up with excess mucus that drains through your nostrils.

But there are plenty of other triggers that might cause your nose to run, including your daily habits, your health, and even your meals.

My Medical Mantra spoke to a few health experts to know the reason behind this phenomenon.

Dr Rahul Kulkarni, Head, ENT department, St George Hospital, said, “We get a nasal discharge from our nose when we cry, this is due to the excessive tears draining into the nasolacrimal duct. There is a channel/duct which connects the eye with nose i.e. the nasolacrimal duct. The tears always drain by it into the nose. So whenever there is an excess of tears in the eye, the remainder of the tears get drained through our nose.”

Why does my nose run when I cry?

When you cry, tears drain out of your tear ducts – which are located underneath the lids of your eyes – and these tears pass into your nasal cavity.

There, they drip down the inside of your nose, mixing with mucus and any other substances in your nose like allergens or blood, and out through the openings of your nostrils.

So despite what you might think, the fluid running from your nose when you cry is not just snot – it’s tears and whatever else is in your nose at the time.