Merck Manual

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Some Causes and Features of Nasal Congestion and Discharge

Some Causes and Features of Nasal Congestion and Discharge

Cause

Common Features* and Tests

Acute sinusitis (a sinus infection that just started)

A mucus- and pus-filled discharge, often from only one side of the nose

Sometimes a foul or metallic taste in the mouth, facial pain or headache, and redness or tenderness over the cheeks or above the eyebrows

No itching and no eye or throat irritation

Computed tomography (CT) may be done, if people have diabetes, a weakened immune system, or signs of a serious illness

A watery discharge, sneezing, and watery, itchy eyes

Pale, soft, swollen membranes lining the nose (nasal mucosa), seen during the examination

Symptoms that often occur during certain seasons or after exposure to possible triggers

Decongestant sprays if overused

Congestion that returns when the decongestant wears off (rebound congestion)

Pale, extremely swollen nasal mucosa

No discharge

A foreign object in the nose, mainly in children

Often a foul-smelling, sometimes blood-tinged discharge from one side of the nose

A recurring watery discharge, sneezing, and red, swollen nasal mucosa

No identifiable triggers

Viral upper respiratory infections

A discharge that may be watery or sticky, a sore throat, a general feeling of illness (malaise), and red nasal mucosa

* Features include symptoms and the results of the doctor's examination. Features mentioned are typical but not always present.