Does your nose run like a faucet when you eat?

Let’s face it, it’s embarrassing! You are trying to enjoy your meal and your nose is leaking clear watery discharge like a sieve. These symptoms are consistent with gustatory rhinitis.

This is a type of non-allergic rhinitis typically triggered by eating hot and spicy foods. However, any food could potentially trigger the symptoms. In some cases, the runny nose is so significant it interferes with quality of life and quality of a dinner out. Gustatory rhinitis can affect children or adults and is more common in individuals with “hay fever” (allergic rhinitis) and persons who smoke.

Is there a special test for gustatory rhinitis? No, the history as noted above is sufficient to make the diagnosis. Allergy skin testing for food allergies is probably not necessary unless other symptoms such as hives, vomiting, diarrhea, swelling, eczema, asthma or anaphylaxis occur with eating. Similarly, clear runny nasal discharge can be a symptom of environmental allergies. However, with environmental allergies, frequently there are associated nasal congestion, sneezing and eye symptoms (itching, redness). These are typically absent with gustatory rhinitis.

Good news! There is a treatment for gustatory rhinitis. The nasal spray ipratropium bromide sold as Atrovent nasal spray® can help prevent these symptoms when taken before a meal. Atrovent nasal spray is a prescription medication approved by the FDA for both allergic and non-allergic rhinitis. This nasal spray has few side effects and is not addictive.

You can have your spicy food and eat it to!