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Why Does Your Nose Run When You Cry?

The human body is an amazingly complicated work of art. There’s a lot going on inside our bodies that we’re often not even aware of. Here we hope to explain one of the puzzling features of our body mechanics: why does your nose run when you cry?
A crying girl with a runny nose and her two friends

Emotions can cause our bodies to react in different ways, and crying is a very common one. People cry when they are upset, happy, in pain, or even when laughing. For women, crying can also occur as a result of hormonal changes. 

These hormonal changes can occur during your period, throughout pregnancy, or as a result of menopause. Hormonal fluctuations can cause changes in mood, motivation, weight gain, anxiety, depression, and irritability. These same hormonal changes can cause women to cry without knowing why.

If this sounds like you, you may be experiencing premenstrual syndrome (PMS). If your PMS feels worse than usual or you feel like your emotions are out of control, consider speaking to a medical professional about an evaluation and possible treatment

What is a runny nose?

The medical community uses two different terms to talk about drippy noses: rhinorrhea and rhinitis. Rhinorrhea is a runny nose, and rhinitis is inflammation of the tissue inside the nose or nasal passages. This inflammation can be caused by a number of things and can give you a runny nose. You might experience congestion with either of these conditions.

How are tears connected to a runny nose?

Your body continuously makes tears that wash across the outside of the eye — about 1.2 ml every day. The tears protect your eye by keeping it lubricated and washing away any particles of dust or dirt. Any remaining fluid enters two small openings (puncta) in the inside corners of your eyelids (near your nose). This fluid then drains through the tear ducts and into the back of your nose and throat.

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When you cry, a part of your brain triggers a chemical reaction in your body, causing the lacrimal gland in your eye to produce extra tears. If you only produce a few tears, they will drain into the puncta, maybe making you sniffle a bit. If you’re bawling your eyes out, tears might run down your face, make your face and eyes red, and cause your nose to run.

Other reasons for a runny nose 

A woman having a runny nose

There are several other reasons why you might have a runny nose, often associated with an irritated nose or nasal passages. The most common reasons include:

  • common cold
  • influenza
  • seasonal allergies
  • allergic reaction to perfume, pets, dust, smoke, etc.
  • onions 
  • cold temperatures
  • hot food or liquids
  • spicy or highly seasoned foods

As you can see, there are many reasons for a runny nose — anything from exposure to an irritant to a rush of emotions. Any of these can make your nose run, with or without tears.

https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/premenstrual-syndrome

https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/runny-nose/basics/causes/sym-20050640

https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/ear,-nose,-and-throat-disorders/approach-to-the-patient-with-nasal-and-pharyngeal-symptoms/nasal-congestion-and-rhinorrhea

https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/ear,-nose,-and-throat-disorders/nose-and-sinus-disorders/rhinitis

http://time.com/4254089/science-crying/

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